If leafy lettuces are running out, there is still a bit of time to sow some more seed before spring.

Last autumn, it was unpleasant to remove warm season vegetable plants to relinquish space for cool season vegetables, particularly since some still seemed to be productive. Now the cool weather that the cool season vegetables crave will soon be getting warmer. It is still too early for warm season vegetables, but it is time to get ready for them.

If space allows, seed for a quick last phase of certain fast growing cool season vegetables can be sown. Radishes, carrots and beets still have time to mature before the weather gets too warm, although the beets will be the small tender sort. There probably is not enough time to grow big beets for canning. Leafy lettuces can still be sown to replace what might be running out early. Large vegetable plants like broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage grow too slowly to mature before spring weather gets too warm, so will need to wait until next autumn.

Peas are odd vegetables that like to grow in autumn and spring, in between warm and cool (or cool and warm) season vegetables. The first phase of peas can be sown now, and followed by subsequent phases every two weeks or so until the weather gets too warm for them.

Even though it will soon be getting too warm for cool season vegetables, it is not yet warm enough to sow seed for warm season vegetables directly into the garden. Fast growing vegetable plants that get sown directly, such as beans, corn and most squash, will need to wait until the weather is warm enough for them to grow efficiently, and the cool season vegetables finish and get out of their way. However, seed for vegetable plants that can get planted as seedlings, such as tomatoes, peppers and eggplants, can be sown into flats or cell packs in greenhouses or cold frames.

Tomato, pepper and eggplant seed sown directly into the garden when the weather gets warmer will be more likely to get eaten by snails or succumb to rot as they germinate than seedlings that got an early start in a greenhouse or cold frame (although snails and rot are not problems in every garden). For those who do not want to start growing seedlings at home now, seedlings will certainly be available in nurseries when it is time to put them out into the garden. However, the advantage to growing them at home is that there are many more varieties of seed available from catalogs and online than any nursery could stock with seedlings.


10 thoughts on “Vegetable gardening is still cool.

      1. This garden has been fallow for this year. There were no winter vegetables this last winter or the winter prior. It provided some nice summer vegetables prior to that. It was never intended to be permanent anyway, and parts of it should be left for the junipers to overrun as intended. We still get plenty of naturalized greens though. The wild turnip, mustard and turnip greens are better than what grew in the garden.

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    1. My gardening column is written for the West Coast of California, so lacks information that would be very important in other climates. I sometimes ‘mention’ frost because it is a concern here, but do not discuss it too much, because it is irrelevant farther south. I know that it is much more important elsewhere.

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      1. Oh yes, I realize you are in a different climate zone, but we do have a lot in common like winter annuals and growing vegetables in early spring. We normally might have one hard freeze a year, but the last two years have been crazy. I usually have flowers all winter and now all are dead.

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      2. Well, one frost annually is not so different. That is about what we get, although our definition of frost may be different. My angel’s trumpet got frosted this year, which is very annoying.

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      3. The definition of ‘hard freeze’ seems to be as variable as climate. I do not believe that hard freezes happen here, although it did happen back in 1990. It could get as cool as 32 degrees here tonight, which is weird after so much spring like weather, but I do not consider that to be a hard freeze.

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