It’s hard for me to wrap my brain around the fact that, by Las Vegas standards, winter is almost over. In just a few weeks, tomato and pepper seedlings will be available at garden centers. And my stack of seed catalogues is growing steadily higher. I love me a beautiful seed catalogue, don’t you? In fact, if you’ve never seen the catalogue from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, please do yourself a favor and request your free copy. It seriously is eye candy for the gardener…or for anyone who loves delicious food! Even my kids love flipping through the pages looking at all of the amazing and exotic fruits, veggies, and flowers. But I digress… As seasons change here, I like to take a walk out to the garden and evaluate what worked and what didn’t this year. So join me as I hop around the yard to document my winter garden successes and failures.

winter garden pinnable

I should start be saying I planted my fall/winter garden over the course of a few days in mid October. I direct-sowed everything with the exception of four cabbages and one kale plant. They were on sale at Star Nursery and I couldn’t resist! Other than that, all the seeds I used came from Baker Creek.

I should also say that this was the first season in which our new irrigation system was in place. And I LOVE it. All of my seeds germinated! For a step-by-step guide to the best desert watering system EVER, head over HERE.

So let’s jump right in and start the tour…

winter garden 1

Purple Cabbage

Remember the cabbages I mentioned? Well, let’s just say they are doing great. This guy is ready to harvest!

The others are smaller, but they are still forming nice heads, so I’m going to go ahead and call the cabbages a success.

And the carrots. OH THE CARROTS! I planted a ton of these guys…probably three seed packets worth. My kids think there is nothing greater than picking carrots straight out of the garden for a snack. And I kind of have to agree. I’ve taught them to feel around the top of the carrot to see how big it is before pulling it, although sometimes they yank the tiny ones anyway. Even little Henry loves munching them straight out of the ground. They just give them w quick rinse with the hose!

winter garden 2

Looks more like a jungle than a carrot patch, but I’ll take it!

And planted right behind the carrots are the peas. I wasn’t sure how these would do because it was still pretty hot here when I planted the seeds, and peas tend to like cooler temps. But I’d say they’re doing ok despite the rough start.

winter garden 3

Once the pea shoots get to be around 8-12 inches tall, I tie them up with string and wind the climbers through the trellis. Once they get this big though, there’s not much hope in taming them.

And in the middle of this madness is my solitary kale plant. I love being able to come our and clip a few leaves to throw into the kids’ smoothies.

Kale

There are also a few lonely beets nestled in this bed. I planted a couple rows, but most of the seedlings were devoured by a very hungry bug or two…although I’m not sure what kind of bug is responsible. Here are the survivors…

beets

Moving on down the path to the next bed, I’ve got a few onions planted. The best part about onions is that while I’m waiting for the bulbs to form, I can use the green shoots! I never have to buy green onions at the store. And these are DELICIOUS. They taste much stronger than the ones you buy. A little goes a long way. If all goes as planned, the bulbs should be formed and the onions should be ready to harvest by May or June. If you’re curious about harvesting onions, head over HERE.

onions

Next, I have a row of radicchio. The hubs said he wanted lots of “fancy” lettuces this year. So we gave these a try. I haven’t harvested any yet, but they look pretty good to me, although they may need more thinning.

radicchio

And this brings me to a complete an utter failure…bok choy. Oh, I had high hopes for this. We love bok choy in salads and stir frys. I planted a TON of it. Unfortunately, the bugs love it too. By the time it got col enough for the bugs to head underground (or wherever bugs go in the winter), the bok choy was ready to bolt. So…here’s what I have now. I like to call it “chicken food”.

bok choy

At least it’s not going to waste, right? And Addison loves to pick the flowers to put in a tiny blue bottle her Mimi gave her. She loves flowers.

This brings me to my favorite part of the garden at the moment…the LETTUCE bed!

spring mix

The first part of the lettuce bed is all spring mix. I’m not even sure what’s in it, but it is DELICIOUS. It contains a few varieties of lettuce, some arugula, spinach, endive, mustard greens, and who knows what else. It’s a little bit peppery, and it’s superb all by itself with a homemade vin

The middle of the lettuce patch contains a mix of cut-leaf lettuces. This variety of lettuce will never form heads like the romaine you find in the store. Instead, the leaves form in little clumps that can be cut and tossed right into a salad bowl.

mixed leaf lettuce

This particular blend is called Rocky Top from Baker Creek.

And the last of the lettuces are right here…

red romaine

These really should have been thinned more. They would have formed larger heads if I had thinned properly. But even as it is, I can still cut what I need, and the plants just grow more leaves. In fact, that’s true of every type of lettuce I have planted. To harvest, I just take my kitchen shears, grab a handful of leaves, cut them about two inches above the soil level, and the leaves that I cut will grow back in about a week. It really is incredible…they just keep coming and coming! I love it that I never have to buy salad greens, and I have MORE than enough to share!

garlic and onionsAnd last, but certainly not least is the garlic and onion bed. I planted tons of onions and garlic this year since we use so much of them in the kitchen. They won’t be ready to harvest until late spring or early summer. But once they’re harvested, the onions and garlic will keep for months if they are stored in a cool, dry place.

That’s the end of the winter garden tour! Overall, I think the season was a success. I did loose almost all of my beets and all of my bok choy to the critters…and in retrospect, I should have torn all of the damaged plants out and put something else in. But I didn’t. At least the chickens are happy with my mistake!

So how about you? Do you live in a place where year-round gardening is possible? What’s in your garden right now?

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7 Responses to Winter Garden Successes and Failures

  1. Devin says:

    Oh my! Looks like you had a great garden!! Unfortunately, I did not have the same luck. I realized that the location of my planter box is shaded ALL DAY in the winter. In the summer it got morning and afternoon sun. So everything is still very very tiny. My lettuces just started growing a bit more this last week, but they are only about 3 inches high. :( I guess I will have to plan my winter bed in a different location next year!

  2. Maggie Alvarez says:

    Gorgeous and delicious! Thought I’d let you know that the link on this page to Baker Creek is not working.

  3. homespunsprout@gmail.com says:

    Thanks Maggie! The link should be fixed now.

  4. lisa M says:

    Your garden looks great! I love bakers creek too! I’ve never grown Kale. I’m glad to know I can get away with 1 plant. I’ll be trying that this year.

    Thanks for linking up with Green Thumb Thursday. Please stop by and link up again this week!

    ~Lisa

    • homespunsprout@gmail.com says:

      Thanks Lisa! It’s funny that you mentioned kale…I’m actually harvesting mine right now!

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