How-to guide for planting this season
We know that year-round gardening is an amazing way to make your soil healthier and pollinators happy. But how do you get started? We've talked about the types of plants that grow well in the cooler Fall & Winter seasons, but just knowing what to grow and when to grow is only part of the process.
Planning your Fall / Winter Garden
When planning your garden, think about the ways in which plants grow together in order to optimize space and production. You can sow seeds or add starts alongside your existing summer plants in order to minimize downtime. For example, Kale grows quite big, but you can sow it next to cucumbers, lettuces or pollinating flowers that are winding down. Around the Kale, you can also plant beets, celery, dill or garlic which won’t grow as tall and can handle the additional shade from the full-grown Kale plant. Cabbage could also be planted next to cucumbers, and optimal companion plants would be beans, celery, arugula, spinach, onions, sage or thyme.
When you add your plants, keep in mind the spacing and any incompatibilities. Kale & cabbages grow well together, but fennel and many Brassicas do not. Try to think about the plants in four dimensions, factor in how long they will take to get to maturity and their size at full-growth in order to avoid overcrowding. In other words, think about how big the plant is now, how big it will be in the future and if it will block the sun from any other plants as it grows to maturity.
It’s a fine line between optimal spacing and too close together, so it pays to err on the side of allowing too much space and fine tuning for the next season.
The last planning factor that will help you have a better garden experience is to avoid placing a lot of the same family of plants together (monocropping at a garden scale). This can be tricky for the cool months since so many plants that grow well are in the same family. By creating a more diverse garden, you’ll avoid some of the pest problems that can become overwhelming very quickly if everything is a nearby food source for them.
In addition to the plants that do well, it’s important to make sure your garden is set up for success. Plan on adding a healthy compost mix for soil health & plant nutrition is the first step. Try to find a local source of fresh compost as it will contain more live cultures than anything in a bag.
Temperature control is also important — a mulch of rice straw will help keep the plants at a healthy root temperature and won’t germinate when the rains come which means less weeds for you to take care of when it’s cold and damp outside.
You have help!
As always, feel free to stop by (Northern California) or ping us through our Garden Coaching app (iOS | Android) with any questions you have (completely free). You are not alone and you do not have a black thumb, Avalow has your back for anything you need from the plants, mulch, compost to advice and encouragement!