The Joy of Winter Gardening


A bounty of winter goodness in our backyard.


One of our favorite aspects of living in Los Angeles is our ability to garden all year round. Although the sun dips barely above the horizon and the hours of daylight shrink from October through March, there’s still enough sunlight to grow certain vegetables all the way through to spring. In fact, you don’t even need to live in the Southwestern United States if you are fairly handy and can construct a decent greenhouse. We, however, are fortunate in that we live in an area of constant sunshine and, though the more sun-needy vegetables won’t grow (well), we still manage to keep a steady supply of fresh greens in our diets during the fall and winter months.

So what grows well with less sunlight and shorter days? Here is a list of what we grew successfully:

  • Kale
  • Lettuce (most varieties)
  • Beets
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Chard
  • Peas (sugar snap)
  • Peppers
  • Chives and other herbs
  • Cherry tomatoes

Most the above vegetables were acquired as seedlings for free from our local junior and senior high schools, which have well-established gardening programs, with the rest started from seed (the peas, for example). We used our tried and true garden box method, yielding two full crops of the leafy vegetables and are still waiting to harvest our Brussels sprouts. Peppers are simply continuing from last summer, as are the herbs, and we’ve gotten some spectacular beets. One nice benefit of growing at this time of year is the reduced watering necessary to produce a good crop; in most cases we were able to get away with only 2-3 light water applications per week, in some cases using runoff from our 50 gallon rain barrel in place of the hose.

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