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The Fresno Garden: Top 10 Veggies to Grow in Winter Garden

Updated: Nov 28, 2023

Many residents of the Central Valley, California, appreciate living in the agriculture hub of the nation and the world. Our Mediterranean climate and mild winters provide residents the opportunity to grow their own delicious groceries, year-round in their own backyard!

Winter garden, yes! In this article, we are taking a look at vegetables to grow in the Fresno garden during winter. We'll be sure to follow up with tasty recipes and comforting meals to cook with these ingredients!

A few important planting tips before we talk winter veggies.

If you wish to start your winter veggies by seed, it's best to get them started in August. I know it's triple digits and it doesn't seem right, but it is. Try to start them in a seed starting kit that has a clear cover. That will help retain the moisture inside the kit like a greenhouse - it's very important that your seeds do not dry out.

Not interested in seeds? September is veggie planting time with starters. Starters are those 6 packs of plants, not beer, or individual 4-inch containers that you'll find at your local nursery.

When you plant your winter veggies in September, the warmth of the ground and soil encourages the roots to grow and promotes deep-rooting plants. This better prepares them for that cold winter weather.

So let's get started with our favorite 10 veggies to plant in the fall for winter eating!

1. Leeks

Leeks are a chef's culinary friend so they will be your friend, too! Leeks are related to garlic, onions, and chives and their mild onion flavor lends itself to creative stir-fry, soups, or stews. Eat cooked. Plant seedlings mid-September. Mature at 60-90 days. One crop per season. 

2. Broccoli

Broccoli is a cool season annual in the same family as kale, cabbage, bok choy, and Brussels sprouts. Broccoli plants look like trees with firm, tight crowns. The unopened flower is actually the edible part! By cutting the main flower head, several smaller flowers will begin to grow called side shoots. This gives you more broccoli to harvest. Grow as seedlings in mid-September or start seeds as early as August. Harvest about 50-80 days later to enjoy steamed or in your favorite broccoli cheddar soup. One crop per season. 

3. Carrots

Everybunny loves colorful, crunchy carrots! From your basic orange to white to black, there is a carrot at the end of your root-crop rainbow. Carrots are great raw, steamed, or oven roasted with a buttery glaze. Carrot seeds may be planted in August for an autumn harvest and again in April for a summer harvest. Carrot starts may be available for planting a month later. 

4. Peas

Peas are a cool season crop and hot summer days are perfect for planting peas. Look for sweet vining or bush varieties for picking and harvesting fun with the kids. Plant in August for an October crop of peas and plant again in mid-April after the danger of frost. Sixty days to harvest. Steam your peas, add a smidgen of butter and you're good to go!

5. Swiss Chard

Versatility and swiss chard go hand in hand. Green or multicolored stalks will enhance your yard as well as the palette of your veggie garden. Plant your seedlings mid-Septemin ber or your seeds in August. Repeat in spring after frost. Harvest in 60 days. Use your chard in salads, stir-fries, or soups.

6. Lettuce

Lettuce is the American standard for salad making. Choose red-leaf lettuce for color and Romaine for bulk and texture. To reduce the chance of bolting from the summer heat, plant your lettuce seeds in early September. Seedlings may be planted in late September or early October.

7. Artichokes

Artichokes are a delicious perennial. They produce several crops a year once established and grow to 3' X 3'. Steam or boil to cook this delicacy. Peel back the layers and enjoy dipping them in mayo or olive oil. The fuzzy heart is worth the effort of getting to the meat of the artichoke. If allowed to flower, artichokes make an interesting purple flower bouquet that will last for years. Hang upside down to dry. Plant as seedlings or from a container in late spring or late summer.

8. Spinach

Eat your spinach for vitality! Naturally high in iron, steam it or try it raw in salads. Plant this simple vegetable by seed in mid-August or seedlings in mid-September. Early spring crops are possible in April. Dress with a dab of butter, salt, and pepper the way PopEye did! 

9. Onion

Throw an onion into the mix when cooking meats and vegetables. Related to garlic, chive, leek, and shallot, the onion is the top veggie in the kitchen of culinary aspirations. When do you NOT use an onion? Plant seeds in mid-August and seedlings in mid-September. Plant again with onion starts in spring after the last danger of frost.

10. Kale

Big and leafy is what kale is all about! With varieties like "Dinosaur" kids dig this plant. Easy to grow, fun to eat, and pretty in the garden, kale is packed with nutrition and taste.  Eat green or baste with olive oil, and a sprinkle of sea salt, and bake. Plant seeds in mid-August and seedlings in mid-September. Repeat in spring after danger of frost. 

Thank you for checking out our 10 favorite veggies to grow in winter! Remember Magnolia's Yarden is here to help you be successful in your garden with design, planning, and more. If you are not sure where or how to get started, set up a garden consultation and lettuce chat about what you want your garden to do for you! Request consultation.

Live your best botanical life from the garden to the kitchen

Happy gardening!

Danielle Fischer

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