Cool weather vegetables and greens love spring

UC Master GardenerMarch 26, 2014 

kale

Cool-season crops, such as kale, thrive at this time of year.

UC MASTER GARDENER

After living in Fairbanks, Alaska, for 20 years, I really appreciate the fact that I can grow many vegetables year-round here in California. Some of my favorite varietals for my north county garden add both beauty and food to my raised beds. Kale, swiss chard, spinach and lettuces such as redleaf, romaine and arugula, thrive throughout winter and spring and will produce before the extreme heat arrives and drives them to bolt.

Many cool-weather vegetable varietals will also tolerate a short freeze, which can happen up until early April in the North County. Be sure to read the back of seed packets for temperature tolerance of various seeds. Cool-season crops grow best and produce highest quality produce with daytime temperatures ranging from 55-75 degrees. If you are in the South County or along the coastal zone, pick varietals for your particular microclimate.

Garlic, leeks, onions, radishes, peas and potatoes can be planted now and will produce over the next three months. Garlic takes very little room, and leeks do well in spring and are relatively inexpensive to buy. Onions are easiest to start if you purchase sets.

Even with the early March rains, water conservation is still a priority. Keep in mind that growing veggies in blocks, using the square-foot gardening methods, will conserve water during our intense summer months. Group vegetables with similar water needs to improve irrigation efficiency. Providing wind breaks and a thick layer of mulch will reduce evaporation and increase the soil’s water holding capacity. Be diligent about weeding as the soil warms now so they don’t complete your vegetables for soil moisture.

GOT QUESTIONS ABOUT WHAT TO PLANT IN YOUR GARDEN DURING THE DROUGHT?

Visit our educational demonstration garden, Garden of the Seven Sisters, at 2156 Sierra Way, San Luis Obispo. Our garden will be open to the public every Thursday and every third Saturday of the month from 12 to 2 p.m. UCCE Master Gardener docents will be on hand to answer questions about our many educational plots.

Please make note of the following:

• No pets allowed other than service animals.

• Rain or inclement weather cancels.

• For more information, call 781-5939 or email our helpline at anrmgslo@ucanr.edu.

GOT A GARDENING QUESTION?

Contact the University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners: at 781-5939 from 1 to 5 p.m. on Monday and Thursday; at 473-7190 from 10 a.m. to noon on Wednesday in Arroyo Grande; and at 434-4105 from 9 a.m. to noon on Wednesday in Templeton. Visit the UCCE Master Gardeners website at http://ucanr.org/sites/mgslo or email mgsanluisobispo@ucdavis.edu.

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