January in the Garden

Jan 11, 2021

Broccoli in my California garden Winter flowers in my California garden

Welcome to my Garden

Welcome to my little Southern California garden. It is my favorite place and I am excited to share it with you. I live in Orange County, California in an apartment with a 10×10 patio. It faces south with no other apartments blocking the light so I get plenty of sun to cyanotype, and grow flowers and veggies! I have two 8×3 garden beds, two 3×1 planters, and many pots. Up until this spring, I’ve never had a proper garden and was always limited by the lack of light. But I made do with shade-loving plants like ferns. And grew flowers in a neglected planter bed in the front of the triplex we use to live in (with permission from the owner of course).

This space is all I dreamed it would be and more. I have been so amazed with all that I can grow with such a small space! Gardening is one of the few things I could do all day every day, rain or shine, and love it. There is something so soothing about working out in the dirt with my hands. It is also incredibly satisfying to enjoy the literal fruits of my labor whether that’s cooking with herbs, making a meal entirely of things I grew, or filling vases on vases with flowers.

 

Winter in a California garden

Winter is the time of year I am most unsure as a gardener. In the majority of the country, garden beds are empty, the ground is hard, and everything is at rest. It is likely that many gardeners are planning for the spring and summer, and some might even be starting seeds indoors. And though it is quite chilly for us Californians, the likelihood of even getting a frost is very very low.

The lack of frost is what makes me uncertain. Because every website, book, and seed packet offers advice based on the first and last frost dates. I am still not a guru by any means but am feeling more surefooted about winter gardening. Especially after finding the Urban Farmstead.

Though winter in my garden is very subtle, I do notice the difference. Especially in my vegetable bed. Gone are the vibrant colors of summer that often hold on through the fall. Gone are the bright tomatoes, the sprawling pumpkin vine, and the cheery marigolds. Now when I look out my window, I see a sea of green. My flower bed is holding on to some of its color, with cosmos and gomphrena somehow miraculously still thriving. But it is mostly filled with late winter bulbs about to bloom, and spring sprouts just germinating.

I am out there every morning with my coffee in the chilly dawn air, to mist my seedlings and watch them sprout.

Sweet pea tendrils in my California garden Purple Pansies in my California garden

What I’m growing

My garden has a constant rhythm to it with patches of it rising and falling at different times. But the melody never ends, and I need to be prepared for it. Sowing and planting before the last seasons’ crop has begun to wane. This allows me to make the most of my small space! Even though my garden doesn’t have super clear seasonal distinctions, I figured I would share with you what I am currently growing.

Veggies:

  • Carrots
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Kale
  • Arugula
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Celery
  • Snow peas
  • Beets
  • Radishes
  • Basil
  • Lavender
  • Cilantro
  • Chamomile
  • Mint
  • Yarrow
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries

Flowers:

  • Cosmos
  • Chocolate cosmos
  • Black-eyed Susan
  • Snapdragons
  • Gomphrena
  • Pansies
  • Violas
  • Narcissus
  • Ranunculus
  • Snowdrops

 

The next set of flowers recently germinated:

  • Iceland poppies
  • California poppies
  • Love-in-a-mist
  • Larkspur
  • Queen Anne’s Lace
  • Sweetpeas

 

Cosmos harvesting lettuce in my California garden

Blooming + Ready to Harvest

Lately, my wooden harvesting tray has been filled with lettuce, spinach and basil. This weekend I will pull up another round of carrots. They were a bit stunted last time so I am hoping this set will be a little more developed. After the first underwhelming batch read up on Carrots and apparently if the soil is too compact it will stunt their growth! I hope to apply this to the next set that I sow. The only other vegetable being harvested, are snow peas. It has been pretty sparse but I have a feeling they are just getting warmed up.

My cosmos are blooming like champs, but my black-eyed Susan’s and gomphrenas are beginning to wane. They are still lovely and I am just thrilled to see they’ve hung on for so long. Peppered in between the growing sprouts, and tiny seedlings are purple and blue pansies and violas. They are a recent addition and add so much cheerfulness to the bed. So far only one of my bulbs has bloomed. I thought it would be the snowdrops but it was a narcissus that took the lead. It is such a lovely fragrant flower and it reminded me that the days are growing longer and spring really is on its way.

 

January Tasks

My main task for January is to sow my late spring and early summer seeds indoors. This is a task I have been somewhat reluctant to begin because I am not super great at this yet. Though it did finally get a heating pad so I hope to have more luck. Maybe by next month’s garden update, I will be able to share images with a bounty of tiny sprouts. My only other task is to harvest and deadhead as needed while keeping out an eye for pests to catch them early.

 

Seed Planning in my California garden

I am excited to be integrating my gardening into my artistic practice this year and am choosing to grow flowers with this in mind! Each morning, I share small garden vignettes on Instagram, so if you want more garden loveliness come join me there!

I hope you are inspired by my little California garden, and it makes you want to get your hands dirty too. Please let me know if you have any questions or if there is something, in particular, you’d like me to share more about.

Garden

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