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Winter’s Bounty 2011

As the winter growing season is winding down, we’ve already planted some spring crops, and planned out the summer crops. There’s still one important thing to do, however, before we move on to spring: appreciate winter’s bounty.

Even though we can see what’s growing above ground, there’s an element of surprise when harvesting root crops like carrots, parsnips and potatoes (okay – it’s a tuber, not a root crop).  Students always ask me how they will know when to pick their root vegetables.  I tell them to run their index finger around the base of the stem to feel the diameter of the veggie, then pull it when it reaches 1 inch in diameter or more.

The finger test works, but you’ll never know what size that parsnip really is until you actually pull it out of the ground.  Here’s what I found today:









Some big, fat parsnips and a few mutants next to a pair of Felco pruners

In addition to parsnips, I have been harvesting a few other garden delights this winter:










Clockwise from the top right: Rainbow Swiss chard, sugar snap peas – a rare sight indoors, kohlrabi, parsnips, Cavolo Broccolo a Getti di Napoli, Utah celery and a few mutant carrots.

Not shown: 3 kinds of broccoli, dry Christmas lima beans (yes, still going from last summer), and a few of the first spears of asparagus.

The strange thing about growing in Southern California is that our winter is like spring most everywhere else.  After all the rain we’ve been having, and a recent pruning/deadheading, the herbs and flowers have really taken off.  By late spring, they’ll be withered and dry, so now is the time to enjoy them:












Happy mint in a pot with curry plant in the foreground












Hyacinth and beneficial insectaries like calendula, California poppies, cosmos
and echium vulgare (not shown) attract bees to the garden

The garden may be winding down, but it’s still active and fruitful.  What have you been picking this winter?  Post your harvest here.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Christy Wilhelmi

    You’re right about one thing – gardening in Los Angeles is different. Most gardening books aren’t written for us.  You can however plant carrots right now if you want. I usually grow carrots year round. Plant them in October and again in late winter or early spring. It may take a little while for them to germinate, but they’ll get going once the weather warms up.

  2. Helena

    I’m still learning the right times to plant things is Los Angeles. I’ve learned that you usually can’t follow the instructions on the seed packet. I thought I could get away with carrots planted in January, but I’m sure I’m too late. The only things I’m harvesting right now from the past Fall are peas & lettuce. I’ll have to try starting the carrots and other root plants earlier next time.

  3. Sonia

    Inspiring! I found some stubby carrots in the ground the other day, as I was inspecting & prepping beds for cool weather crops. Here in Zone 7 on the East Coast, we’ve had some bizarre weather lately… sunny 70s one day, snow & ice the next. But I hold out hope that spring is coming! Can’t wait to get started on the next crop of carrots, brassicas, peas, lettuces, etc. Your comment about the peas made me chuckle; mine almost never make it into the house either!

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