I think I am even more excited this year about my fall/winter garden than I was about my tomatoes this summer. If you want a tomato in Sacramento in the summer you can roll out of bed and find yourself at a farmer’s market just about any day of the week, but fresh lettuce in the winter is pretty hard to come by, and plus who wants to drag themselves to a cold dark farmer’s market in December to buy lettuce? Not this girl, that’s for sure.
This is when living in California really starts to pay off. You can’t grow EVERYTHING all year long, but you can grow a damn sight more things here in November than you can in Vermont, let’s just say that.
My very favorite part of having lettuce growing in my backyard is the availability factor – it probably saves me money, but I’m not going broke buying lettuce or anything. However, being able to go pick fresh lettuce any time I want a salad but not having heads of lettuce rotting in my fridge that I feel pressure to use up? AMAZEBALLS.
If you live in warmer areas of the country where you barely get a freeze, it’s really not too late to just throw some lettuce seeds in the ground. I tested and amended my soil with fertilizer and some compost, but really, you don’t even need to do that. Just make sure you read the directions on the package. All these tiny seeds go under no more than 1/4 inch of dirt most of the time. Not that you would bury your lettuce five inches deep and then wonder why it doesn’t grow, but really. READ THE DIRECTIONS.
This year I planted lettuce, spinach, chard, peas, beans, carrots, and golden beets.
The chard is going to town. I am ridiculously thrilled by my chard. The beans are just sitting there, hanging out, not sure if they’ll do much, but it was worth a shot. We have lots of lettuce coming up, although it’s still pretty small. It’s been pretty hot so hopefully it’s not bitter. (This is why you can’t grow lettuce in high summer – it turns bitter.)
The other thing I like about having this garden is that you can grow stuff that you have a harder time finding in the store. I am growing golden beets, I can never find those in the store. And rainbow carrots! Next I want to try to plant pink turnips and broccoli romanesco. I can find the pink turnips but they are expensive, and I can’t find the broccoli romanesco anywhere.
You do have to wash this stuff a lot when you pick it, but I think it’s worth it. I can’t wait to put chard in every single thing I eat this winter.
It’s super easy to find out what you can plant in your area in the fall or winter – mostly you need to not have too many hard freezes. We usually have one or two and the lettuce comes through that ok, although you can cover it with a sheet if you really want to. But I know even in really cold places there are some things you can plant – just google it.
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