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California’s warm climate lends itself to year-round gardening. The trick to growing a full, verdant garden is knowing when to plant what.


In California’s temperate interior valleys, even winter is a hospitable time for new life! The mild climate makes winter gardening fruitful despite reduced sunlight hours.

Even so, frost presents a challenge for growers. While plants like carrots can stand up to frost, many other plants do not reach their full potential if planted too far ahead of the last average frost date. The last average frost date varies by region and year and is available to gardeners through free online almanacs.

Don’t want to wait out the frost? Start growing seeds indoors! The amount of light seeds require to germinate varies by type, but direct sunlight is not recommended as it may damage seeds. Generally, soil temperature must remain in the range of 75-90 °F for healthy growth.

This winter, plant:

  • asparagus, endive and leeks  in January;
  • beets, carrots, chard, chives, turnips and white potatoes in February; and
  • sweet corn in March.


Take advantage of the spring sweet spot! Edible flowers add beauty and liven up the palate. A number of flowers are edible (though not all!) and perfect for adding a visual and flavorful zing to any dessert or meal.

Jumpstart your collection with colorful choices like:

  • honeysuckle to complement dark chocolate desserts;
  • marigold to add a bitter, tangy flavor to pastas and rice;
  • nasturtium flowers to spice up salads and sandwiches; and
  • pansies to add sweet décor to cakes.

Don’t forget fruit and vegetable staples!

This spring, plant:

  • cantaloupes, cucumbers, eggplant, snap beans, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, summer squash, winter squash and watermelons in April;
  • chayote, lima beans, okra, parsnips and peppers in May; and
  • celery in June.


Build your garden to thrive in the summer heat! Successful summer gardens require careful plant selection as well as proper design to keep vegetables moist and healthy.

Potted fruits and vegetables do best in deep pots and planters. Deeper pots allow for more soil, which means greater retention of moisture and less frequent watering, saving money and time.

Drip irrigation systems are increasingly popular. The system drips water consistently throughout the day to keep roots moist, but not saturated. It also uses less water than traditional methods as the water is targeted and less wasteful.

This summer, plant:

  • artichoke, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and snap beans in July;
  • beets, carrots, Chinese cabbage, endive, Florence fennel, green onions, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard, rutabaga, summer squash and white potatoes in August; and
  • peas, radish and spinach in September.


Fall is the perfect time to clean up and repair soil depleted by the spring and summer harvests. Clearing away fallen fruits, weeds and spent plants helps keep away unwanted pests and disease. Once the debris is clear, the soil is ready for treatment.

Loosening compacted soil with a garden fork allows new roots to travel easily through the soil. Mix in compost and organic fertilizer  as you loosen the soil. Vegetable gardens require manure which has thoroughly composted for a minimum of six months to avoid root damage and human health risks.

After treatment, rake the soil to create a clump-free, level surface ready for your fall favorites!

This fall, plant:

  • garlic in October;
  • lettuce and onions in November; and
  • broccoli, parsley and rhubarb in December.

Make the most of your garden. It may even help you attract potential buyers! Want more advice on how to get your yard and house market ready? Give me a call. I’ll help you get the most out of your home sale.

Editor’s Note – Not located in the Interior Valleys? Check out the Desert Valleys, North and North Coast, and South Coast versions of this FARM letter!