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Garden Docs: What to plant for fall, winter

  • It's the perfect time to start planting beets

Susan S. of Santa Rosa asks: What fall/winter vegetables can I grow now, either from seeds or starts? I'd love to have some fresh veggies to pick at that time of the year!

There are many different vegetables that grow and perform better when the temperatures are cool, and sometimes even cold, and not bothered by light to heavy frosts. The seeds of these vegetables will also germinate well in the cool soils. The best time to sow seed or plant these vegetables is from fall into winter.

Leafy vegetables include Swiss chard, lettuces and spinach. If you'd like to try a few more exotic vegetables, sow or plant the Asian greens such as the bok and pak choys, Chinese broccoli, Chinese cabbage, Chinese mustard and garland chrysanthemum. Then there's collards, chicory, endive, kale and mustard. Leafy vegetables like water, so make sure to keep the soil consistently moist if there is no rain yet.

Root vegetables that are easy to grow include beets, carrots, garlic, leeks, onions, and radishes. Try some of the old-fashioned root vegetables such as salsify and turnips. Some unusual roots, and root-like edibles, that are also worth the effort to grow are celeriac (celery root), fennel and kohlrabi. Root vegetables like deep, rich soil, so be sure to add lots of compost before planting.

Let's not forget broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower, which thrive in the cooler weather.

The pods, of course, are the peas, including the English peas and the snap peas/sugar peas. An odd relative is broad bean (also called fava or faba), usually planted as a cover crop, then chopped up early in spring and incorporated into the soil for added nitrogen and as a soil amendment.

The European greens and assorted salad greens are some of the easiest to grow. There's arugula, corn salad (mâche), garden and pepper cress, sorrel and, of course, the dandelion. Make sure that these greens get even moisture, especially when the plants are young. Enjoy!

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