Hello everyone! Devin here, from Salt and Pepper Moms! Here in the Valley of the Sun, it is time to start planting your winter garden. Yep! Like right now! We are so fortunate to have a very long mild season with our Fall and Winter weather and it makes for perfect gardening conditions that people in those cold, snowy places can only dream of. (Sorry cold, snowy place people!) If you are interested in having a fantastic Winter garden, here’s what you need to know!
When To Plant – Our family always likes to get our planting done early. The earlier you plant, the longer your harvest season is. So our ideal planting window for our winter garden is mid to late September. But it’s not too late if you want to plant right now! You can still enjoy your veggies until the heat hits again in the Spring time.
What To Plant – There are many options when deciding what to plant in your Winter garden. This year we planted carrots, bush beans, romaine lettuce, buttercrunch lettuce, swiss chard, pumpkins, and cherry tomatoes (traditionally a Spring/Summer plant, but we are going to experiment a little with them in the Winter this year). Other options include broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, peas, radishes, squash, and turnips. Check your local nursery to see what they have in stock and what they suggest for the season and area you are in.
Where To Buy Your Plants – It is a good idea to find a nursery you like in your area. A nursery where you can depend upon good quality plants at honest prices and a knowledgeable staff is invaluable as a gardener. Here in the West Valley, I highly recommend Elgin Nursery. They are our family’s go-to store for our gardening AND landscaping needs.
Seeds Or Seedlings – We mostly purchase seedlings (which you buy at the nursery and transplant straight into your garden) and do not do too much from seeds. Seedlings are still super cheap and you get to skip the hard part of starting them out which sometimes involves shelves of baby plants taking up room inside your home or possibly even a small greenhouse. That being said, I happen to think planting from seeds is really fun! But when we do plant seeds we stick with the easy ones that you plant straight into your garden; like pumpkins, carrots, and sunflowers. It is up to you if you want to start everything from seeds. As for us, we take the easy road on this one.
Preparing To Plant – I’m not going to go in-depth on your soil or fertilizer contents today (that will need to be a whole different post), but there are a few things you can do to prepare your garden before you plant that will help your crop. A couple of weeks before planting, put some manure and fertilizer in your garden. Work it into the soil with a shovel and/or rake, water it down, and let it sit. The day you plant you will want the soil to be moist and you can add a little more fertilizer at this time as well. Miracle Grow is an amazing fertilizer but it is also expensive. Lilly Allen All Purpose fertilizer is a good one and it won’t put such a dent in your pocketbook. We mostly use a custom fertilizer my husband has created based on the Mittleider Method, but again, no time for that today. You’ll have to stay tuned for ALL of the tips!
Watering – We have our garden on an automatic watering system, which I highly recommend. Right now we are watering our garden three times a week for 30 minutes. As the weather gets cooler, this may decrease a bit. You will need to keep an eye on your plants. If things are looking wilted, you may need to up the watering. If you see lots of moss or fungi growing in the garden, you may need to decrease.
A Note On Pumpkins – Pumpkins are so, so fun to have in your garden for Halloween and Thanksgiving. There’s nothing like making jack-o-lanterns and pumpkin pie from something that came straight out of your garden! But unfortunately, if you haven’t planted them already, you are too late to enjoy pumpkins for the holidays this year. But make a note for next year! If you want pumpkins, plant them in late June to mid July. You won’t regret it!
Thanks so much for joining me today! I hope this inspires you to get out there and plant that garden you have always dreamed about having! It’s really pretty simple and so fun to do. Give it a try! Happy gardening, everyone!