Winter gardening

I’ve been procrastinating on my winter garden, what with the Indian summer weather we’ve had. But now is the time to get the summer plants out and the rain-loving crops in.

I always want fresh cilantro in the summer to go with my tomatoes, but it actually does much better here in the fall and winter. The plants don’t bolt into seed production as quickly, due to cooler temperatures.

I recently organized my seed cache by the month each should be planted. Under October I have California poppies, which will provide welcome color in the hot summer. Under September (whoops—I’m late!), I have mesclun, carrots, radishes, sweet pea flowers and broccoli rabe. I also usually plant rainbow chard to have some fresh greens through the cold months.

I’m going to try planting leeks for the first time, and the great chart I got from the Sacramento County UC Master Gardeners (available at Capitol Nursery, 4700 Freeport Boulevard) gives January as the best time for starting leeks. A little work in the rainy season will lead to a welcome bounty of fresh produce to keep me going until summer.