HOME > Chowhound > Gardening >


Anyone doing a fall/winter crop?

I've got sugar snaps, collard, kale and potatoes so far. I put in some sweet peas today. Also herbs including parsley, chives, winter savory, marjoram, and overwintering oregano and thyme. Fava beans, garIic and shallots next week.

Hey, living in California has to have SOME redeeming factors!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Here in NH, parsnips are our traditional winter crop. I planted garlic last week. Chives and other herbs are doing fairly well still since we haven't had too many really cold nights. Next year I hope to have a high tunnel in place for things like lettuce, chard, etc. Kale is still doing well in the garden and I might have two small heads of broccoli.

    1. I got the beds ready for garlic last weekend, hopefully the garlic itself will go in soon. I also tried growing chicory last summer...only two roots grew but I dug 'em up anyway, transplanted to a big bucket, put it in the cellar and am hoping for a couple of endives in a few months.

      2 Replies
      1. I'm in SoCal.

        My fall crops consist of:
        Black Kale
        Collard Greens
        Cima Di Rapa
        Bok Choy
        Swiss Chard
        planted onion seeds for Feb transplant/spring harvest
        Garlic for spring harvest
        Trimmed up the artichoke plants

        I'm still growing/harvesting tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, cucumber, and pole beans from late summer transplants.

        Herbs have been non-stop since last year.

        6 Replies
        1. re: Novelli

          What onion seeds are you using? Are they "short day", or neutral or what? Growing onions from seeds seems so advanced to me! I have done a few varieites of cipplolini before, and would love to try again.

          1. re: Shrinkrap

            I grow 2 types of onions. Yellow Granex which are short day, and Cipolla Rossa d Tropea, which are a medium long day from Calabria, Italy.
            Even though the cipolla rossa are med long day, and not really for my zone, I'm still able to get them going with nice harvests.

            Onions from seeds are very easy. In the fall, find a nice loose patch, broadcast the seeds, water regularly and wait for them to grow. With the cold weather they won't really take off. They'll sprout and grow maybe 5 or so inches. Come February, I dig the starters up, and transplant them into another area, only planting about an inch down. And by May/June, I've got beautiful fist sized onions to harvest (except the Italian type, which are known for being a little bit smaller torpedo size).

            I posted some pics back in June of my 2011 cipolla rosa harvest.


            1. re: Novelli

              Love the pictures! But not sure what I'm looking at. Are those soil blocks behind? Are they in the ground, a raised bed or what? How big are the onions? Whatevs! Nice!

              1. re: Shrinkrap

                thanks! Yes, it's in a raised bed. Kind of a weird agle for the picture, I know. They're on an old wire shelf that I lay across the box so they can cure for a bit.

                Those onions grew anywhere from golfball size to tennis ball size. They aren't known to get massive, but they turned out bigger than I thought I'd be able to get them! LOL

                1. re: Novelli

                  Oh! I rotated the picture, and it all makes sense!

                  I believe I have those seeds, and a few others, from "Seeds From Italy:" I used instructions from "Golden Gate Gardening"; seeding in a tray. Outside won't always make it through January up here, and " a nice loose patch" is hard to come by. I might experiment with the seeds I have, but I have heard onion seeds don't last long.

            2. re: Shrinkrap

              Starting onion seeds! Other than chard, mustard greens, and sorrel in an earthbox, same as last year.

          2. Here in the Arizona desert my fall crops are bell peppers and tomatoes. We plant them in early October. We can grow pretty much the same thing as Southern California but we just need to plant them at different times of year. My Tangelo and Lemon trees are doing well also.

            1. I am in Nothern California. Growing in raised beds.
              Swiss chard(white giant and a yellow variety)
              Purple mustard
              Two varieties of sugar snap peas
              Three kinds of lettuce
              Bunching onions and herbs are always growing.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Jay D.

                This is my first time starting sugar snaps in November. I'm doing super sugar snaps. I've read they will bloom in Feb in the bay area. Have you done them before? What is your experience?

                Put in garlic and shallots today. Not sure I will have space.for favas (aguadulces and superaguadulce fro Seeds of Italy.

              2. Austin, TX:

                raised beds.

                Herbs: parsely, thyme, lemon grass, lemon thyme, chevril, dill, cilantro, some residual basil plants, Thai basil, tarragon, chives are still hanging on. Rosemary, but it is mainly used as a hedge.

                Onions (green, 10/15, and some red starters)

                Butter lettuce

                Acorn squash



                Mustard greens

                Collard greens


                Meyer Lemon trees, Bear Lime, Mandarin orange, and Fig trees, and satsuma.

                I still have some okra, peppers, and green tomatoes from the summer that are producing.

                2 Replies
                1. re: drdelicious

                  And cucumbers. Wow!

                  Its all wow, but cucumbers in December, especially!

                  1. re: Shrinkrap

                    Some of these I have to cover if it gets too cold at night, but we are still in the 60s to 80s during the day. It'll get cold around end Jan early Feb, and alot of that stuff won't make it...

                    I call the green tomatoes our 'Christmas tomatoes.' I just can't believe the squirrels have left them to grow this long.

                2. Have two Earthboxs going with herbs. Chives,rosemary,thyme,basil,sage,parsley,oregano,dill, savory! and mint in a pot. All doing quite well. In FL.

                  1. South Fl here, got tomatoes, bell peppers, eggplant and herbs. Small yard so can't do much else. Milkweeds for the monarchs too.

                    2 Replies
                      1. re: smartie

                        The monarch caterpillars completely denuded the leaves on my Meyer lemon tree (bush, in fact). Fortunately it's recovering nicely, but i' ve never seen a citrus get that stripped before by them. Next year it's getting bt regularly, and don't even try growing milkweed in my hood. There's lots of it at work, though, I"ve noticed, which is far away enough for me.

                      2. I'm in zone 5 (Utah) and have my first winter garden. I put hoop houses over two beds. One has herbs, kale, and swiss chard, the other bed has beets, lettuce, and kohlrabi. I covered each with 2 layers (one with 2 layers of plastic, the other with 1 of plastic and one of fabric).

                        I'm having all kinds of trouble keeping them closed up tightly (its very windy here). How are all of your gardens faring?

                        13 Replies
                        1. re: lazy_lurker

                          Took forever, but everything is up, especially the sugar snaps , which have really taken off. But I lost the potatoes.

                          1. re: Shrinkrap

                            Yeah, I don't think setting out potatoes so early was a good idea. I'd maybe wait another month if you plan on planting potatoes again. Just too damn cold at night lately and very dry.

                            Not for nothing, but the below websites have some great resources for SoCal growing.

                            Compare and take it all with a grain of salt, but some good info can be found!

                            Check 'em out and see if it can help.



                            1. re: Novelli

                              ^ Thanks!

                              , well i rarely do well with PLANNED potatoes, but if they happen to be sprouting in my kitchen in the fall, I put them in wherever I'm digging. The come up in beds all over my yard, but rarely do they survive winter or summer. Sometimes the come up again in the spring, and grow big enough to eat. fingers crossed!

                              I'm in N Cal, BTW.

                              1. re: Shrinkrap

                                Hi Shrinkrap! I was perusing the gardening board, which is a bit sparse, to see if any other Nor Cal people have started planting. I'm about to start with my basic herbs for the year.

                                Have you ever tried tomatoes? Anything you suggest that works well for indoor pots that don't get direct sunlight all day? NorCal is new to me and I had trouble last year with how cold it was (from SoCal).

                                1. re: bobabear

                                  Have I tried tomatoes? If you only knew! I have a huge set up in my garage with light stands, heating pads, the works! But I haven't been into them much lately. Doing more peppers now, Lots of redwood tree roots in my raised beds, and good tomatoes are easy to get in season around here.

                                  You should check out the gardenweb forum, both the tomato forum, and the California forum.

                                  There are folks from both north and south cal that post their successful varieties. I think a lot depends on your Sunset zone. I am sort of inland, so timing putting plants out as early as possible before it gets blazing hot, but not when the nights are below 55 is key. Usually around May 1st. I start my seeds about eight weeks before that, but have to pot them up a few times.

                                  1. re: Shrinkrap

                                    Thanks for the link to Garden Web, I'm finding some great forums on there! I'm going to look for some SF specific info since it feels like winter still in May..

                                  2. re: bobabear

                                    bobabear, EVERYONE had trouble last year with the cold - we had a much cooler, later summer than usual. It might help to know where in NorCal you are. I'm in the SF East Bay (west of the EB hills) and we had wonderful tomatoes and peppers and beans last year, though they were later than usual. Just now we have mixed lettuces, kale, and arugula to harvest, some leeks ready when we are, garlic and shallots are up, and the first batch of broccoli will be ready to harvest in another couple weeks. Chives, parsley, thyme, and oreano we grow year-round. Under lights indoors we have starts for more lettuce/spinach, broccoli, and both sugar snap and shelling peas. We plan to start peppers and tomatoes indoors with an eye to transplant about May 1. Hope this helps!

                                    1. re: nami54

                                      Good to know it wasn't just me :) I just moved here from SoCal and was unsure about the weather and last year's attempts.

                                      I live in SF (the "sunny" side in Hayes Valley) and had a decent time with herbs, but my tomatoes didn't fruit until late September. It was odd, but got a very small batch of good tomatoes from it.

                                      This year, I'm planning to stick to leafy greens and herbs, though I may also try some onions and garlic.

                                      1. re: bobabear

                                        bobabear, if you haven't already done so, get yourself a copy of Pam Pierce's "Golden Gate Gardening". It's the best bay-area (especially SF) resource for what to plant, when to plant, and what to do with it after you harvest it. When I spent five years living in SoCal, I used to pore over it and dream of winter gardens (I never had any luck with winter veggies in Altadena). She also has a great section on which tomato varieties are most successful in SF.

                                  3. re: Shrinkrap

                                    Shrinkrap, I'm in the Bay Area and I'm the one who started the "Do Tomatoes Hate Potatoes?" thread last summer. I, too, have potatoes popping up all over the place and am actually trying to get them out of the raised beds where I grow tomatoes. The plan is to keep them all in one spot. But it isn't easy!

                                    I have arugula starting to flower right now. The lettuce is finally doing well. A few pepper plants are still fruiting. The artichoke plants are growing well, but I've had to water them. Is it ever going to rain?

                                    1. re: Glencora

                                      you are making me very grateful we confined our potatoes in trash cans! We got a pretty small crop, though. Hoping for better yields next season. I'm about to pull up our arugula.

                                      1. re: Glencora

                                        "but i've had to water them"- I can tell you don't live in southern AZ!

                                2. re: lazy_lurker

                                  lazy_lurker: our DIL has chickens for the first time. The eggs are wonderful.

                                  How large are your hoop houses? I'm in zone 5ish, NH and trying to decide how big we need for just the two of us.

                                  I was able to pick unprotected spinach a few weeks ago. It was incredibly sweet. No snow cover at the time which is very unusual for us.

                                3. Oh - and my three hens have finally started laying! Fresh eggs are delicious, but unexpectedly, the hens are so sweet and silly they make me smile every day.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: lazy_lurker

                                    hens are so cute- if they weren't so darn messy I'd have some again. Those big fat green eggs were the best eggs i've ever had, bar none.

                                  2. We have a 4' x 8' cold frame that we planted with cold hardy stuff in September (Mustard Greens, Collards, Radish, Claytonia, Mache, Purslane, Raddicio, Spinach, Lettuce). When it isn't sunny, and also at night, we cover with an additional a few layers of row cover over the top of the glass.

                                    After repeated spells of very cold weather (down to -4F), we are STILL eating fresh greens from the garden in Central Ontario !! Barbara Damrosch and Eliot Coleman would be proud.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: PoppiYYZ

                                      I salute you PoppiYYZ! Another good incentive for me to have a season extending plan for next winter.

                                      I was pleased to cook some beets the other day that have been in our semi-heated garage. Some had put out new leaves. The beets were delicious.

                                      1. re: dfrostnh

                                        Do try it. The cold frame also works well in the spring too !

                                        We plant it 4-6 weeks earlier than the garden with similar cold hardy crops (plus kohlrabi and Chinese greens) and start eating many weeks before the garden bounty. As we are taking those crops out, we plant a couple of early tomatoes and heat loving veggies that normally don't do well here. We only use the glass at night when temps drop below 50F.

                                        Sweet potatoes love it in there and by mid to late summer we are eating eggplant and fennel as if we lived in Tuscany !!

                                        Now go get your supplies and start building ...


                                    2. The alpine strawberries I started from seed last summer are blooming! I hope it's not too early. Does anyone in N CA have experience with these? How cold-sensitive are they? Not too, I assume, considering the name... It's pretty cold, though, (low 30s) and they're in a low spot in the backyard where cold air collects.

                                      I'm rather proud that I managed two grow 2 dozen. The seed is beyond tiny; basically powder. The plants in 4 inch pots were $5 each at the farmers' market. I wanted to edge an entire bed, so growing from seed was much more affordable. Can't wait for the berries.

                                      8 Replies
                                      1. re: Glencora

                                        Congrats on your new babies!

                                        I have not grown ALPINE strawberries, but the ones I grow (seascape, I believe), are like weeds on my clay slope! I think strawberries are pretty rugged. But mine are pretty dormant right now. What is your sunset zone?

                                        Some threads on gardenweb




                                        1. re: Shrinkrap

                                          I'm impressed. My regular strawberries get nibbled by slugs and then the pill bugs burrow in. I'm hoping the Alpines will be tougher.

                                          1. re: Glencora

                                            Ahh!, Well it's the PLANTS that do well, The berries are apparently well liked by creatures faster than I. One year I had a standoff with a scrub jay. That bird stared me down! With regard to slugs and pillbugs, I think it helps to put a dry mulch, like straw, around the plants when they are fruiting.

                                            1. re: Shrinkrap

                                              Alpine stawberries LOVE the cold. In fact, it is the HEAT that tends to stop them growing. On my own plants (I'm zone 6b) I tend to get two crops one very early in the spring (around March and the other very late in the fall (so late, in fact that I am usually serving fresh picked fruit at dessert at Thanksgiving.) BTW if you happen to get one of the alpine strains that have fruit that stays white when ripe, you don't have to worry about bird battles, they don't notice them)
                                              As for winter planting, my pots are sown with garlic and rakkyo (an Asian vegetable, similar to a shallot) overwintering. I'm also playing around with some winter wheats this year. And over the winter, I am planning to turn the unheated portion of my Garage towards the growing of a few walnut trees (the garage is to help keep the nuts away from any hungry squirrels).

                                            2. re: Glencora

                                              The slugs nibble on my aplines, but there are plenty left for me ;-)

                                          2. re: Glencora

                                            The alpines in my zone 6 garden make it through winter, unmulched. They're rugged. They self-sow easily, too; you will have lots of little plants to fill in your border soon.

                                            1. re: gimlis1mum

                                              Thanks. I had a plant years ago that did self-sow a bit. Eventually they all died of old age I think.

                                              1. re: Glencora

                                                I dig 'em up every year or two - the old plants get kind of root-bound (for lack of a better word) and start to lift up out of the ground a bit. I toss hte biggest old ones on the compost and shift the little guys around a bit.

                                                I started with 6 plants 4 years ago, now I have a whole row of them lining a 50-foot path in my new side garden. I love them.

                                          3. I live in Broward County Fl.
                                            I am trying container gardening for herbs and 1 tomato plant.
                                            so far so good
                                            any suggestions? planting small plants? I have nasturium seeds which i am going to plant this weeken
                                            tomato-sweet 100 cherry tomato
                                            lemon grass
                                            lemon verbena
                                            thai basil
                                            mexican oregano

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: jpr54_1

                                              Can't go wrong with a cherry tomato, but they can get pretty big. I understand there are two seasons for tomatoes in Florida, and they are not summer!...or maybe that was Texas. Anyway, TOO much heat can be a problem.

                                              1. re: jpr54_1

                                                When I grew cherry tomatoes in a container (very large plastic pot), they ended up crowding the nasturtiums but the nasturtiums did ok on the sunny side of the container.

                                                I grow lemon verbena in a pot and winter it over in a semi-heated garage (I'm in NH). It goes thru a dormant period in winter, at least here in the north.

                                                I'm undecided about mixing perennial herbs and annuals so I usually grow a single variety in its own pot.

                                                1. Been harvesting arugula, bok choy, spinach, cima di rapa, and swiss chard lately, as well as a small plot of mesclun (mix of mustard greens, chervil, lettuce, endive, radicchio, frisee, sorrel, and mache). Excellent salad greens! Broccoli, cabbage, kale, and collards will be ready shortly.

                                                  I'll be pulling out some carrots (Danvers) in the next couple of weeks and sowing seed potatoes for red norlands, yukon golds, and russets in the 2nd week of February.

                                                  Onions are POPPING (Red Tropea and Yellow Granex)!
                                                  Ready for transplant in the next couple weeks too!

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. Eating my first peas favas are flowering. Most of the garlic varieties about a foot tall. I've got a mole or something, burrowing in the shallots.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. Mine was a total failure. I can't seem to grow any winter veggie past 2 inches tall. I planted kale, broccoli, arugula, beets and microgreens. The only thing marginally successful were the microgreens. Everything germinated right away and looked marvelous for a while....then just ceased to grow. And we had the warmest winter in 20 years this year in SC. Strangely, the kale did better last year, which was one of the COLDEST winters i could remember. It got maybe 5 inches tall. Why can't I grow anything?!?!? *sulk*

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: danna

                                                        danna, I garden in a colder climate so I don't know for sure what the problem is. Here in New England, we are told to get seeds in the ground no later than mid-September in a high tunnel. They need to grow to a good size before the short days of winter put them into dormancy. Probably the best thing to do is check with your cooperative extension service for your county.

                                                      2. I live in northern Alberta, Zone 1b. Yes, rather pitiful. Currently it is -20C with about 30 cm of snow on the ground so we can never do winter gardening. Makes me incredibly jealous of those who can. However, when we move to Croatia, that will change. I'm a ;master gardener and would find Zone 9 to be slightly less challenging than a 1! ;-)

                                                        6 Replies
                                                        1. re: chefathome

                                                          wow, that's quite a move! Coming soon?

                                                          1. re: gimlis1mum

                                                            Fairly soon, yes. It will be a huge change in so many ways. The climate alone is worth the move but there are about 3,098 other reasons, too. :-)

                                                            The good thing about gardening in a zone 1 is that most pests get killed off.

                                                            1. re: chefathome

                                                              heheh, maybe I should ship my fruit trees there for a season to kill off the borers :-)

                                                              Congrats on the move and i'm looking forward to reading about your adventures in a warmer-zone garden!

                                                              1. re: gimlis1mum

                                                                I bet your borers would be gone in 30 seconds flat. :-)

                                                                Thanks! It all seems like a dream. It is hard to know what to plant first - we already have gorgeous climbing roses, lots of herbs, a fig tree and many non-fruiting trees so I am hoping for lemon, orange, bay and olive because it is the Mediterranean after all!

                                                          2. re: chefathome

                                                            You will have to start using sunset zones now! Is 9 your sunset or USDA zone? There is a California gardening subforum on gardenweb.

                                                            1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                              It is the equivalent to the USDA Zone 9. Will look into the sunset zone, too, which definitely does not apply here! :-) Can't wait...

                                                          3. Something gets in my way of a good fall/winter planting every year. This year I get to blame the hurricane; I had a flimsy plastic cold frame set up around some greens & a tomato but I had to take it down before the winds came.

                                                            Things just seem to grow verrry slowly in my raised beds; I'm thinking that they just don't get enough sun? Even supposed 30-day things like radishes and lettuces take a couple of months to reach picking size. I always forget to take that into account when I plant for the fall, I really should be putting stuff in in August but the real estate is still occupied by summer veggies.

                                                            3 Replies
                                                            1. re: gimlis1mum

                                                              I'm new to fall planting and agree that it's tricky. In addition to not enough sun, perhaps you also aren't watering enough. The only crops that are done in time to make space available seems to be garlic (July harvest/zone 5), sugar snap peas, spinach and beans except sometimes beans keep producing. This year I got some plants started in 6-packs to transplant into available space. Beets and spinach seeded Oct 20 in a high tunnel (should have been sown a month earlier) germinated so now I have my fingers crossed. This is our first year with a high tunnel.

                                                              1. re: dfrostnh

                                                                I'm in zone 6 but the harvest schedule seems similar - I pull the garlic in late June or early July, and my 2nd sowing of beans kept producing so I left it in there until september (the kids were eating their beans, I wasn't gonna mess with a good thing).

                                                                I did start a latekeeper tomato (winterkeeper? I forget the variety - it's a storage tomato) in June, but I probably should have started the seeds a bit earlier - the plant got about a foot high and set a few fruits but I think there would have been more if I gave it an extra month.

                                                                Good luck with your high tunnel, I hope you get some tasty salads. I'm grumbling because a lot of the fall-and-winter-friendly leafys don't grow well for me; we have some kind of yucky leaf spot that shows up on beets and spinach, they never make it. The same thing appears on a weed (burdock, maybe?) so I don't know how to eradicate it, I think the wind blows it around.

                                                                I did dig up my basil, parsley, and a clump of garlic chives and bring them in. The basil won't last the winter (it's in a southern-facing window but still not enough light) but it'll be nice to have it for another month or so.

                                                                1. re: gimlis1mum

                                                                  Bummer on the leaf spot. Maybe you should contact cooperative extension for a diagnosis. It would be great if it's something you can prevent with a row cover.

                                                            2. Any updates?

                                                              Most of my garlic and favas are up, but there is a half a bed that did not come up.

                                                              Sugar snaps and sweet peas are up as well.

                                                              I ate some kale, but the kale and collards never really took off..

                                                              Ate some mustard greens from an overwintering earthbox, but the chard got mildew. Sorrel LOOKS pretty but I haven't eaten it.

                                                              As usual, the potatoes I am trying to overwinter, this time in a self watering planter, are not looking good.

                                                              Also trying onions ( a long day, and an intermediate day cippolini) from seed for the first time in a long time. Almost lost them all after trying to bottom feed, but it looks like they are recovering. I plan to put them in a self watering container ( an earthbox) in a few weeks.

                                                              Some new growth on my Meyer lemon, but not the blood orange.

                                                              "Gardener" hacked up my fig tree, but I'm sure it will be fine.

                                                              Shallots are still sleeping.

                                                              Sprayed the nectarine with lime once, but not yet with dormant oil.

                                                              3 Replies
                                                              1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                                This is extremely pitiful by your Southern California standards, but I'm sure you can appreciate how good this harvest from yesterday looks and tastes after many cold days (some as low as -19C / -2F) !!

                                                                Coleman style cold frame, 6mm Lexan lights protecting the "crop" from sheets of ice falling 40' off the barn roof, and an occasional foot of snow for added insulation...

                                                                1. re: PoppiYYZ

                                                                  I absolutely appreciate!

                                                                  For what it's worth, I am inland NorCal (half way between San Francisco and Tahoe), and I was cracking ice on my deck planters at 10 AM.

                                                                  And I'm originally from NYC.

                                                                2. Might get some young yellow beets out of the "high tunnel" this week. We've had some pretty cold temperatures but today it's quite warm (NH). Spinach and beet greens look good. Broccoli side shoots are skimpy and the plants have suffered. Studying seed catalogs because I really would have liked some lettuce to make it thru the winter. Have spinach and carrots outside under thick layer of straw. Won't dig the parsnips until spring. Need to learn to like Asian greens a lot more since they seem pretty cold hardy. Aiming to start some leeks for 2013 and have tomatoes by July 1 (a neighbor has set an example).

                                                                  1. I planted two broccoli plants, snap peas, spinach, and two varieties of carrots, all in containers.

                                                                    I've gotten one harvest of spinach so far, and one head of broccoli. I had plenty of blossoms on my peas, but I guess nothing was around to pollinate them. :(

                                                                    My carrots are in pretty small containers, so they aren't doing much. I might start pulling them soon and just stir-fry them as cute mini carrots. I want to give them a little more time to color up, though. (I went with colored varieties. Atomic Red and Purple Dragon, I think. Or it might have been Cosmic Purple.)

                                                                    1. Favas and sugar snaps flowering.