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Plant seasonal vegetables for chilly months

December 16, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
In springtime, many are raring to grow in their backyard garden, so they'll have produce like corn, tomatoes and snap peas to eat. But as these plants die off, the garden can look a bit pathetic. But since we live in sunny Southern California, we can grow year round. Get out your garden tools, it's time to plant that winter garden."Everybody is excited about vegetables, but they're always thinking spring and summer, but winter, especially in L.A. is a great time to plant," said Katie Tamony, editor in chief of Sunset magazine.

Tamony says the time is now to plant seasonal vegetables for the chilly months.

"Brussels sprouts, broccoli, radish and, of course, all the lettuces and greens, which are great," she said.

You can have lettuce in as little as a few weeks, although cruciferous veggies, like cauliflower and broccoli, take a bit longer, so get them in the ground now.

According to experts, planting produce in raised beds is the best way to go.

"They tend to use less water, they have better drainage. It's easy to work them," Tamony said.

Conor Fitzpatrick of Minifarmbox.com says raised beds are the most efficient because the soil is lighter, giving produce more air and more water, which leads to bigger roots and bigger plants.

Fitzpatrick developed Minifarmbox.com as a source for apartment or condo dwellers that want to grow in tiny spaces. Created in various sizes, the raised bed growing boxes can be ordered with wheels to move the box into sunny areas in the winter, or shadier areas in hot summer months.

If you only have enough room for potted plants, try lettuce, herbs or radishes for easy growing. Broccoli or cauliflower won't do as well, but you will have no problem with the others.

Once you have decided what to harvest, you can plant in the same spots as your former spring crop.

"Freshen up your soil a little bit with a little amendment, maybe add some compost," Tamony said.

Remember, there are various climate zones throughout L.A. and Orange County, so check Sunset's Web site for what grows best in your area right now.


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