Not spring. Maybe elsewhere, but in Southern California now is the time.

I had almost forgot this lesson, and I hadn’t planted one of the rows of the vegetable garden, until about a week ago when I recalled all of the advantages of growing in the fall.

For one, the temperature outside is so pleasant right now. The average daily high for November in my neck of the woods is 73. Unlike in July, I actually want to be out in the yard tending to things every afternoon.

Related to that, the weather is so forgiving for getting plants started. If you miss a day of watering some new seedlings, they’re unlikely to wither. This fall, I completely forgot to turn on the drip line to some broccoli and cabbage seedlings, and they went a couple weeks before looking droopy.

Of course, very soon watering will take care of itself as the rains fill in. This is my favorite aspect of growing in the fall. It’s the most economic time to grow in Southern California since not only do you not have to pay for water but you also don’t have to spend time watering. The sky opens up and does the work for you.

Because of this, we can also say that fall is the natural season to grow vegetables here. It’s when many native annual plants do their growing, such as California poppies. So many annual weeds germinate and flourish in the fall also, like wild oats and filaree — and wild mustard, which is a cousin of the broccoli and cabbage and cauliflower that we intentionally grow.

'Packman' broccoli grew fast this year. Put in seedlings September 23 and started eating heads before Thanksgiving

‘Packman’ broccoli grew fast this year. Put in seedlings September 23 and started eating heads before Thanksgiving

All this goes to say that it’s a big mistake if we let our summer vegetable gardens die out and wait all the way until spring to plant again. That’s acting like you don’t know where you live, as if you live somewhere with a snowy winter.

Which vegetables can we plant in the fall in Southern California? See Vince Lazaneo’s Vegetable Planting Guide here.

P.S. Do be aware that in late fall and early winter the sun is low in the southern sky and trees and walls and buildings throw long shadows to their north. What this means for a fall-winter vegetable garden is that it won’t grow well if it’s planted just north of a large tree, wall or building because it won’t get enough sun.

You might also like to read:

What to do in a Southern California garden in September

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