Winter Vegetable Planting in Southern California

by | Sep 29, 2022

If the chill in the morning air is any clue, it’s time for winter vegetable planting here in Southern California. Today I’d like to share how I set up the garden this year. 2022 will mark my seventh year planting a winter garden, and the tools and tips I’ve picked up along the way have led me to what I’m hoping will be the best season yet!

Before Planting the Winter Garden

The earliest of my Winter sowings were starting to outgrow their seedling containers, so I knew it was time to prepare the garden for winter vegetable planting. While not everything needs to be planted now, you all know that I like to plant my heading brassicas—like broccoli, cauliflower, romanesco, and cabbage—when it is still warm and the days are long. This year, the planned date for transplanting the largest seedlings was September 16th (this is the earliest I’ve ever started planting the Winter Garden). From there, I continue gradually planting various Winter garden vegetables all through October and November. If you’re curious about seed starting, I still use the same basic seed starting process and materials that I always have, except the seeds are started outside this time of year and protected with mesh.

Remember, all subscribers have access to my personal seed schedule for zone 10b which provides a general outline for when to start seeds if you share a similar climate. It’s free to subscribe to my mailing list for access!

If you didn’t start any seedlings by this point, it would be beneficial to head to your local nursery and pick up some winter vegetable transplants. In general, focus on only purchasing transplants for crops that take a long time to mature—such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower—and maybe even some kale or lettuces if you want to be able to harvest soon. You’ll probably see things like carrots and radishes or peas at your local nursery, but those types of crops can easily be sown from seed and directly in the garden (I’d avoid buying those starts).

This year I did some interplanting with the brassicas. Usually I like planting calendula with brassicas, but here I’ve used garbanzo beans. These are cauliflower and cabbage seedlings, which are wonderful Winter garden vegetables

Amend Your Soil For Winter Vegetable Planting

This year I’m sharing exactly what I used to amend my garden beds, although it’s really not much different from the methods I’ve shared in the past in Amending Your Soil Organically and Updates to Amending Your Soil. What I’ve found with gardening is that the materials/amendments used can be changed based on what’s available—success is more about understanding the function of each input (the role it plays) so you can create a garden that works for you. For example, the garden needs composted organic matter, but sometimes I use my own garden compost, composted chicken manure, or a bag of commercial, mixed organic composts based on what I can get my hands on at the time.

To plant the winter garden this year, I stuck with a relatively simple amendment plan. For starters, Lots of organic matter in the form of compost and worm castings to top off the bed. Since worm castings are more expensive, I use compost for the majority of the filling (2-3 inches) and sprinkle the worms castings about. Most importantly, PLEASE fill your raised beds all the way to the top! One of my biggest pet peeves is not filling a raised bed all the way to the top!

In the past I’ve tried perlite as a way to provide moisture retention and add lightness to the soil, but this season I’m using a bag of pumice I found at a new nursery I visited.

The last two soil amendments I added were azomite (per the package instructions) and an all-purpose organic vegetable fertilizer. As I mentioned earlier, sometimes we all have different products available to us, so I find that I can easily switch between brands of organic fertilizers without noticing much of a difference. Organic gardening is important to me though!

Here is our first winter garden planting just TWO weeks after being transplanted from seed starting cells. I’m really happy with the timeline and growth this year!

Transplanting Winter Vegetables

Now that I finally finished amending my garden soil, it’s time for transplanting the winter garden seedlings! At this time, there are only my heading brassicas and some garbanzo beans to transplant. Garbanzo beans are more of a shoulder season crop—-they like warmth like most dried heirloom beans, but also don’t tolerate scorching, midSummer heat. Therefore, this is kind of an experiment with them. If anything, they will provide some nice nitrogen fixing for the soil.

Each seedling was transplanted and watered in thoroughly. Afterwards, I inserted my DIY garden hoops and covered them in an insect mesh or netting. In the past, I’ve tried two such products for covering my seedlings, but so far I like this mesh the best. Why? This particular mesh is hardy for multi-year use, but it also does not have an impact on temperature (will not shade but also will not hold in heat). For my specific garden bed dimensions, I took one 10 x 20 mesh and cut it in half (to make two 10 x 10s).

If there is only one product you use for your winter vegetables after planting, may I suggest an insect mesh (especially if you are planting any brassicas). You might be aware that cabbage caterpillars and loopers can demolish an entire brassica in a day, so it’s beyond worth it to cover your seedlings. In lieu of using insect netting or mesh, there are numerous other organic methods of controlling cabbage caterpillars that I talk about in this article here.

Related Article: What Type of Garden is Right For You?

Our DIY row cover hoops support the insect mesh/netting over the brassicas. This is one of the best ways to keep out critters and cabbage moths from the winter garden after planting.

Gardening in the Intense Sun

A little reminder for those of you who might be new here: my garden is located in inland Orange County. We have blazing hot Summer temperatures, and the coldest winter “frost” we recieve is about thirty-two degrees. Therefore, I know it seems crazy to be planting out “winter” plants this time of year, but it’s absolutely essential for SOME crops (not crops like lettuce, radishes, or anything quick-growing) so that have the time to develop. Furthmore, we are one of the few garden zones that need to think about 90 degree heatwaves during the Winter! These heatwaves can cause Winter vegetables to bolt, so it is important to be prepared.

To protect my heading brassicas from any heatwaves, my husband and I hang shade cloth above the garden. The shade cloth we use is the same cloth I talk about in Protecting Your Garden in a Heatwave, and I’ve been using the same cloth for almost seven years now. Again, having some of these simple garden products in your shed will make a world of difference when gardening in our zone 10 climate. Overall, I only hang shade cloth if the forecast requires it. 

With the garden soil freshly topped, our seedlings covered with insect netting, and the whole garden slightly shaded from the sun, the winter vegetable plantings are growing FAST. It’s incredible to see how warm weather and longer days just make brassicas grow tall and lush!

Here’s how our shade mesh hangs over the garden on the hottest of days. It’s such an important part of the winter garden planting during these warmer Fall months. Maybe one day we will build more semi-permanent supports for our shade mesh.

Other Winter Vegetable Planting Tips

For most of zone 10b, Winter vegetable options resemble Spring vegetables in other climates. For instance, try some edible peas or lettuces! If you’re reading this at the end of Summer, there are also other crops to consider planting in the near future. For example, there’s now saffron (I spied mine popping back up!), garlic, and spring flower bulbs to consider! I’ll leave links to other blog articles I’ve written that are applicable this time of year below:

Growing Saffron Crocus

Garlic Growing Guide

Fall Planted Bulbs for Spring

5 Flowers to Grow Through Winter

Growing Sweet Pea Flowers

Carrot Growing Guide

How to Grow Celeriac

Cool-season Annual Herbs

Growing Peas in Southern California

Meet Randi

Urban gardening is my jam. I’m Randi, California girl who obsessively gardens to grow food and flowers around my urban home. Seasonal, simple living is what inspires me~ I hope it will inspire you too. Join me in crafting a life and home connected to the garden Read More>>>>

For Growers & Gardeners from High Mowing Organic Seeds