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Friday, January 3, 2014

Got Compost: Winter Planting on the Central Coast

Got Compost: Winter Planting on the Central Coast: With the holidays over, and some pretty nice temps, we can’t wait to get back to ‘work’ in the garden! While gardeners on the East Coa...

Winter Planting on the Central Coast

With the holidays over, and some pretty nice temps, we can’t wait to get back to ‘work’ in the garden! While gardeners on the East Coast and in the Midwest may be busy trying to dig out of the snow and just dreaming of spring planting while looking at seed catalogs or online, gardeners here can still be actively enjoying their gardens.  Besides the usual garden cleanup - leaves to rake, pruning and dormant spraying of trees and bushes, gardeners on the Central Coast can still enjoy planting cool season crops.  Many people think nothing much can be planted in what seems to be the dead of winter, but there are a surprising number of things that can be put in the ground this time of year besides the usual bare root roses.
In the vegetable garden, we can plant asparagus, globe artichokes and rhubarb from roots and broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower from transplants, if you can find them in a nursery or garden center. Unfortunately the selection of vegetable plants available at local outlets is limited, so you might consider starting your own transplants from seed next year or get a head start on spring planting this year.  Carrots, kohlrabi, lettuce, parsley, peas, radishes and turnips can all be planted from seed.  Yes, I did say lettuce, which will tolerate some frost and can be grown all winter long in our area.  Think of fresh lettuce from your own garden, tender and sweet, not that stuff from the grocery store.  Leaf lettuce is the best bet, and most rewarding.  Did you know that head lettuce (aka Iceberg) was developed in the 1890's?  Iceberg became successful because its firm, round shape and long shelf life made it good for shipping long distances – for the first time people could have lettuce for salads the year around, not just summer.  The downside is that head lettuce just doesn't have the flavor of leaf lettuce, which tastes best when fresh.  Our favorite is a Bibb variety called Tom Thumb which produces sweet and tender miniature heads perfect an individual salad.  Just add a little dressing and enjoy!
A word about compost -
When planting, always add compost to your soil.  It is the best investment you can make in your garden and an essential step in garden preparation. Compost adds organic matter to your soil, increases water holding capacity, adds nutrients and improves soil health.  If you are preparing a garden bed, apply a layer of 2 to 4 inches of compost and work it into the soil before planting.  For planting bare root shrubs or trees (rose bushes, fruit trees, berries, etc.) add compost to the soil as you refill the hole in which you are plating them.  Add compost and watch your garden grow!
For all the details, visit Harvest Blend Compost or email