There's still time to do winter planting

2011-10-30T00:00:00Z There's still time to do winter plantingElena Acoba Special To The Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

If this unseasonably warm October kept you from starting your winter vegetable garden or, worse, killed the plants you put in, don't fret. There's still time to get growing in November.

Continuing warmth in the penultimate month of the year still allows seedlings to get established and seeds to sprout, says Reggie Smith, owner of Westwind Seeds & Gardenscapes.

"November is really ideal to start broccoli, cabbage and cauliflowers," says Smith, who sells seeds and builds gardens for clients.

For those veggies, transplant seedlings into your garden since it's a little late in the season for seeds. But for pretty much any other seasonal crop - boy choy, lettuce, mustard greens, spinach, chard, snow peas, sweet peas, beets, radishes, carrots and fava beans, for example - you can sow seeds directly into the ground.

While some of these crops like the light frost that can occur in late November, get them all planted before mid-November to give them time to settle in.

When setting up a winter garden, plant according to height so that all plants get a good dose of sunshine. Place tall plants such as bean vines along the north side of the plot, says Smith. Plant medium-sized crops in the middle and the ground-hugging veggies such as lettuce on the south side.

Water once or twice a day to make seeds sprout, then water deeply every two or three days to establish good root growth. Cover the ground around new plants with straw to keep in moisture, she advises.

Here are some other tips for setting up a winter garden in November:

• If you like micro-greens, sow lettuce seeds close together. Then you can have a constant crop as you harvest what you need just when you need it.

• Plant around any summer crops that may still be producing.

• Sow leafy greens in warm soil every week or two into December. This succession planting allows you to spread out your harvest into winter.

Consider veggie gardening in pots

Winter vegetables grow well in pots, says seed merchant Reggie Smith.

"Soil tends to be warmer in container plantings," Smith says, which promotes good root growth.

Potted vegetables also allow you to create a stair-step garden that lets each plant get the most sunshine possible. Use bricks to elevate the pot of one plant above the pot of a smaller plant.

Some potted vegetables look great as ornamentals that you can place on the patio, says Smith.

These include the red, yellow and orange stalks of rainbow chard, the red stalks and veins of ruby chard, yellow flowers from Florence fennel and the lavender tinge of red Russian kale and sage.

Contact local freelance writer Elena Acoba at acoba@dakotacom.net

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