Autumn is the best time for planting in Southern California to get berries established for the spring harvest and fill your pantry with tasty greens, brassicas, peas and root crops all winter long. Here are 12 things to plant right now:
Beets and other root vegetables
Carrots can take weeks to germinate, but other root vegetables such as beets, parsnips, radishes and turnips grow easily from seed. Pro type: Their sour green tops can be harvested (sparingly) as the roots ripen to refresh soups, stews and salads.
Plant strawberries, raspberries and other currants in loose, well-composted soil for a spring harvest that will increase each year. Pro type: Blueberries require acidic potting soil in large containers that are at least 24 inches deep. Water every two months with 4 tablespoons of white vinegar mixed in 2 liters of water to maintain the acidity that blueberries crave.
Bok choy is faster and easier to grow than cabbage because it does not have to form a head and it is sweeter. Pro type: Cut the outer leaves, when they are 6-10 inches, to keep the harvest going all winter.
Broccoli & brassicas
Kale, arugula, broccoli and tender broccolini are easiest to grow (from seedlings) and give you a long harvest through the winter.
Horticultural celery is bushy, full of flavor and easy to harvest by trimming the outer stems and leaves as needed. Pro type: A six-pack of seedlings planted in well-composted soil should keep juicers, snacks and cooks in celery all winter.
Calendulas, nasturtiums, viola and young chrysanthemum leaves are tasty eye candy in salads. Blooming cabbage adds a beautiful color to the autumn garden. Pro type: Sweet peas are not edible, but are so fragrant that you do not care: Plant their seeds now to get abundant spring bouquets.
Garlic, onions and leeks
Onions, leeks and garlic are an investment in your future cooking needs (seven to nine months from planting), but scallions, also called green onions, are ready in 70 days, and when the green tops are 6-8 inches high, you can trim them and watch them grow up again.
Parsley, chives and tarragon thrive in cooler weather and are best planted from seedlings. Pro type: Sow coriander seeds directly into the soil (they do not like to be transplanted) as well as fennel and dill, which easily grow from seeds.
Kale and other leafy greens
Tasty, sour and nutritious, spinach, kale, arugula, mustard, collards and other leafy greens thrive in mild weather, grow easily from seed and produce abundantly. Pro type: Rinse aphids off as soon as they appear and plant over several weeks to prolong the harvest.
Romaine, butterhead, red leaves, radicchio, frisée – these tender leaves are the basis of good salads and make a meal alone with a good oil and vinegar. Pro type: Choose several varieties and plant from seed or as transplants for staggered harvest.
Peas are easy to grow, and whether they are sugar schnapps with edible pods or in need of peeling, they are deliciously fresh out of the garden. Pro type: Plant from seed over several weeks until successive harvests and provide support so they can climb.
Plant seed potatoes in a large fabric container like a GeoPot or Smart Pot. Roll the sides down to about 5 inches, enough to cover the potatoes with 3 inches of potting soil. You add soil as leaves form, covering all but a few, and roll the sides up as the potatoes multiply inside. An alternative: Plant chunks of organic, purchased potatoes with two or three eyes on each.