Winter in Alaska meant temperatures of 70 below zero and snow that closed the roads, but here in San Francisco, winter means mild temperatures and a bit less fog. Gardening in winter in San Francisco means swapping out warm-season veggies for cool-season veggies and planting for spring.
Winter Weather SF Style
San Francisco cannot be said to have a real summer. Friends of mine arrive here from France, bikinis and suntan lotion in hand, despite my repeated warnings, only to find foggy mornings and a slight chill in the air. Few of us who live in San Francisco swim or even wade in the pacific.
Winter has less fog so December mornings can be warmer than dawn in July. It rains a bit more in winter but it’s not cold, driving rain like in France. In fact, sometimes these days, as climate change becomes increasingly severe, it doesn’t seem like it rains much at all.
Gardening in Winter
My garden doesn’t look all that different in winter than in summer. The succulents are happy, though not flowering. The green leaves of strawberry plants save space for the fruit that will arrive in June. The Meyer lemon tree still has large, green leaves and plenty of egg-yolk yellow fruit.
Of course, the teepee of tomato vines is gone, the huge leaves of the zucchini no longer shade their crop. In fact, the vegetable garden is completely changed, with summer fruit harvested and gone and winter fruit ripening. Some green leaf crops last all seasons here like spinach, lettuce, kale, and chard.
Cool Weather Crops for Mild Winters
So, what do we plant here in winter? Winter squash of all types ripen in winter. Broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage taste best when maturing in cool weather. The snap peas and beans give way to carrots and beets.
This may sound like boasting, but it’s not. I am one who prefers distinct seasons. I love spending autumn in France where the hillsides turn copper and red and wild mushrooms appear. I love the first snows of winter covering the bones of the mountain. I love how a fire in the fireplace makes me warm and how chopping logs makes me even warmer. This is San Francisco though, and there’s a lot to love here too.