Grow a Vegetable Garden


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Grow a vegetable garden in Zones 9 and 10. (And great advice if you are not in our Zone!) 

Growing a vegetable garden in Southern California and beyond is easy if you understand your climate. Here we will outline the key things you need to know to grow a vegetable garden no matter the zone where you live. Although we will focus on Zones 9 and 10, which we know best, understanding your zone, climate, and microclimate is vital for growing a vegetable garden anywhere. 

Growing Wheel- Seasons
Understand Your Zones

Southern California and much of the American south resides in Zones 9 and 10. These zones are characterized by long hot summers, warm falls, and mild winters. Growing in these climates is so much fun because you can grow year-round! Understanding weather patterns and ideal growing conditions for a crop is vital for taking advantage of 365 days of growing. 

We break up Zones 9 and 10 into two main growing seasons and a season that bridges the two. You will find that we label our seed packet growing information with Cool Season or Warm Season. Cool or warm refers to the time of the year that the crop prefers to grow. 

Cool Season is the cooler months of the year when the days are shorter. 

Warm Seasonis the warmer parts of the year when the days are longer. 

Shoulder Season, as we call it, is the season that bridges the two.  

By understanding the two main growing seasons of the year in Zones 9 and 10, you can grow a vegetable garden! 

Cool-season crops prefer cool days, ample moisture, and shorter day lengths. Examples of these are broccoli, cauliflower, and lettuce. If you grow these crops under these conditions, they are likely to thrive. Conversely, if you try to grow them in the warm season when the days are long, and the weather is hot, they will likely go straight to flower or fail to grow. 

Understand Your Microclimates

Another critical base of knowledge for growing a vegetable garden is understanding microclimates. Here in San Diego, we are in Zones 9 and 10, but within our zones, there can be a wide range of climate patterns depending on where in the county you live. Some of the factors that influence local microclimates are geological, oceanic, and topographical. For example, if you live closer to the coast, you will likely experience mild weather because the ocean regulates temperatures. You can say the opposite of that for the desert, which experiences dramatic temperature swings. If you live at the bottom of a large valley, you are likely to be several degrees cooler than those residing on plateaus. Understanding the factors that can change your gardens microclimates is essential if you wish to grow a successful vegetable garden. 

We have taken the time to compile some San Diego-specific advice for growers in different climates. Look below to see all the different microclimates we have in just one county! 

Coastal or Area 1:

You can grow a vegetable garden with ease! Cool-season crops like lettuce, other greens, and root crops thrive in coastal areas. Homegrown salad year-round is very easy to achieve! However, year-round cool coastal temperatures can make growing heat-loving vegetables like cucumber, tomatoes, melons, and other summer crops difficult. Pick the sunniest south-facing part of your growing area and choose varieties suggested for coastal growing. Growers should also be aware that damp conditions can lead to powdery mildew/mold growth. During times of the year that cloudy days are persistent, take extra care to adjust water appropriately and avoid overhead watering. Instead, water directly at the soil level. A great benefit of growing in coastal areas is the option of growing tender greens and root crops year-round with ease. 

Are you a coastal San Diegan Gardener?Check this amazing and knowledge-packed blog. 

Inland Area 2: 

To grow a vegetable garden as an inland grower, you must pay attention to daily highs and lows. Growers in this area can have varying degrees of light frost in the coldest parts of the year. Those growing in valleys where cold areas will settle should be very mindful of overnight lows when growing cool-season crops in the coldest part of the year. Growers in this area must also watch daytime highs and may need shade clothorrow coverto protect crops. 

Mountains or Area 3:

Mountain area growers must be aware of having shorter growing seasons. Mountain areas experience snowfall and hard freezes that prevent year-round growing outdoors. For this reason, their growing season will be from the last freeze until the first freeze. For these areas, gardeners should choose seeds that do not take long periods to achieve maturity or short-season crops.” This ensures that they can harvest crops before the season changes. In areas where snow falls, brassica crops such as kale and Brussels sprouts can grow through the cold. They actually become sweeter as cool temperatures increase. They cannot, however, live through hard freezes.Row covercan protect crops and extend seasons. 

Map of Zones 1, 2, and 3

Desert or Area 4:

Gardeners growing in desert areas are limited to grow a vegetable garden during the cooler times of the year. Because of high heat conditions, growing should be reserved for the warm season.Shade clothis beneficial to reduce the amount of direct sun a crop receives. Growers should choose seeds labeled heat resistant” or desert crop.” If water access is available, crops that require high heat, such as Solanaceae and cucurbits, can be grown bountifully with ease in the late winter and early spring before the summer heat kills most vegetable crops. 

Growing a vegetable garden in Southern California and beyond is easy if you understand your climate. Here we will outline the key things you need to know to grow a vegetable garden no matter the zone where you live. Although we will focus on Zones 9 and 10, which we know best, understanding your zone, climate, and microclimate is vital for growing a vegetable garden anywhere. 

 

 


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