What does my vegetable garden need now that the weather is cooler, the winds are blowing and the rain (might) be coming?
If you planted some of your winter greens in November, they are probably loving this cooler weather, but the winds can cause the soil to dry out much faster. Make sure to run your irrigation or hand water the day before a Santa Ana wind event is to happen. Set your irrigation system on a reduced watering schedule for the winter and be sure to turn it off when it rains. Your winter vegetables only need infrequent watering. Only water when you stick your finger into the soil and it’s dry to the second knuckle.
If you live in a microclimate that does get frost, be ready with some type of protection for your precious plants. Cover sensitive plants with cloth, not plastic, and don’t forget to remove it each morning as the temperature rises. If plants do get frost-damaged leaves, don’t remove the damaged parts. These damaged leaves will help protect the rest of the plant from the next freezes. Another simple way to protect potted plants is to cluster them together in a warm area of your garden. Watering the garden before a frost also helps. Wet soil holds heat better than dry soil. Wet soil also protects roots and keeps the air near the top of the soil warmer.
This is also a good time to add compost to your raised beds and containers. Sprinkle vegetable fertilizer and worm castings on the soil. Don’t worry about mixing it in, this will happen naturally.
Winter vegetable gardens are known for giving. You can pick off what you need (lettuce, broccoli, spinach, etc.,) leave the rest and it keeps on growing.
For more tips about caring for your plants in winter, check out:
- Nan Sterman’s column in the Home & Garden section of the San Diego Union-Tribune 12/5/2020
- And, a book I love: Vegetable Gardening in Southern California by Geri Galian Miller
by Suzanne Kestell and Lisa Pavel