Winter Vegetable Gardening

Anne and a kohlrabi

2011 is almost here! It’s time to plan your winter vegetable garden. Here is a picture of me in my garden last year with a yummy kohlrabi I grew.  At this point I had to start prioritizing to decide what to grow for my winter garden.

Hopefully you’ve saved enough space for your winter garden, because in  January, (in CA) nurseries carry veggie plants like asparagus, artichoke, and seed potatoes, as well as fruit plants like berries, grapes and fruit trees.

Gardening in winter is advantageous because plants are direct from the grower to the nursery and less costly. In spring, plants can be more expensive because nurseries have taken care of them (watering, fertilizing, pruning, etc.) for months, which adds to their cost.

Gardening in winter is often called “bare root gardening” because the plants are bare of leaves. In fact, if you buy asparagus, you would buy “crowns”  which are just the roots of the plant. Artichokes are also small and young. All types of berries are available like boysenberry, blueberry, blackberry and many others. Thornless types are available too.

Before you purchase a fruit tree, think about the varieties you already know and enjoy. If you can fruit, look for cling peaches. If you bake pies, try ollalieberries. If you like crispy, juicy fruit, read about Asian pears.  It’s fun to research the many varieties of apples, pears, peaches, nectarines, cherries, apricots, persimmons and many others in search of that perfect flavor. It’s also time to purchase grapes for making wine or for your table. A really neat website to read descriptions of the fruit varieties is Dave Wilson Nursery. These folks grow high quality fruit trees, berries and grapes that are sold to local nurseries.

All of these plants basically look like sticks. They are waiting for spring to warm the soil so they can put on leaves and grow. In most cases, you will have fruit during your first summer! Asparagus and artichokes take a few extra years to establish.

I’m going to leave potatoes for their own category since they are not perennial. You would grow them starting in Jan-Feb and then harvest in late spring. They are such a rewarding crop to grow. It’s just like digging for treasure.

Happy Winter Gardening!




  1. Hi Anne! I may have met you during your MJC years, a while ago. I have a very small yard with limited “sunny” spots for a vegetable garden. I have been experimenting with elevated and tub gardens for years.
    I started winter gardening in large plastic tubs with cabbage, swiss chard, spinach, green onions. I loved stir-fry with fresh greens in winter so much that I have been trying new selections. I tie large clear plastic garbage bags onto bamboo or plastic posts, then pull them over the plants on frosty nights, or heavy rains. Then tie them up to let light and air in during the days. This year : broccoli, spinach and leaf lettuce(in center), green onions, radishes.

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