Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The January Garden

One of the best things I learned when gardening in Tucson is to plant in spring for the hottest days of the summer and to plant in the fall for the coldest days of the winter. As the temperature here rarely goes below 20°F then it is pretty safe to plant brassicas, lettuce and many other greens, onions, peas and some other kinds of beans, beets, chard and cilantro.

A view of my children's winter garden

Digging a trench for composting in my summer garden.

Growing year-round with two separate gardens always presents the problem of competition for space and light. My summer garden often comes into my winter garden, though I have never had the opposite concern.
With the summer garden put to rest, the winter garden has light
Jerico Lettuce (which I begrudgingly share with the caterpillars)
Monstrux De Viroflay Spinach
I tend to plant my winter garden very intensively and pull plants as they need the space. Though all plants need light, many of my greens can survive on minimal light until I recognize that they need to be thinned. Conversely, I tend to space my summer plants much wider as each plant requires much more space and any plant that gets crowded out will likely end up being a disease and pest liability, as well as a waste of time and effort to plant.
Small Black/Purple Carrots

Tavor Artichokes

Some of the plants I am growing this winter include Jerico Lettuce (which I plan to save seed from the plants that bolt last), purple/black Turkish carrots, Kyoto red carrots, Spanish black radishes, some small Texas multiplying onions, Viroflay spinach, snap peas, Tavor Artichokes, a lone Celebrity tomato plant and McGregor’s Favorite beets.

McGregor's Favorite Beets

If you want a minimal maintenance garden in the Southwest then Winter is the prime season to do it. When the weather consistently goes above 75°F then I have to water more than once a week. But if not, then I can usually get away with watering once every 10-12 days. With many of the pests and disease vectors wiped out by the first light frost there is little maintenance required for the winter garden. Truly, the Tucson winter garden is a delightful way to grow and enjoy winter salads, greens, and roots to well into the spring.
Some tasty Snap Peas


  1. That looks so enjoyable, growing and eating fresh greens throughout the winter! I never got to planting a winter veggie garden in North Carolina. Maybe if I ever get a little greenhouse, I'll get to experiment with some indoor veggie growing here in Massachusetts!

  2. Thanks for the comment, Indie. Massachusetts sounds pretty cold - but come summer time I will be wishing that I could come your direction! (=

  3. Your garden looks fantastic! I much prefer a winter garden to a summer one in our (sub-tropical)location. Congratulations on such wonderful bounty.

    1. I appreciate that Anastasia. Winter gardens are so much less work!

  4. I just found your blog! I am also in Tucson and heard gardens are rare here. I had plans to dig up my yard for a summer garden! What are good

  5. Replies
    1. Dear Savannah,

      For the summer I would have to say sweet potatoes and the cucumber-melons from Cucumbershop.com. Squash, watermelons, Chinese Long beans, okra, and eggplant do well in the heat too. Limited success could be achieved with Tomatoes. Tomatoes don't like the heat. You could always take a quick visit to my little garden.


Dear Gardening Friends,
I look forward to learning more about gardening with you. Your comments help me recognize that gardening is a life-long journey.

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