Yesterday I hung out with a group of avocado growers. The current cold and rainy weather that is following a lengthy cold and rainy winter was a main topic of discussion.

“There have been, what, three days over 70 degrees this winter?” said one grower. “I can’t even fertilize yet. The ground’s still cold, the trees aren’t moving.”

Avocados, and citrus and mangos and bananas and papayas and pineapples, don’t appreciate this long, chilly, rainy winter of 2022-2023.

My pineapples have wished they were in a greenhouse this winter.
This banana is worn down by days in the 60s and nights in the 30s.

Which is why I’m glad I grow a diversity of tree crops, some of which relish a drawn-out, cold and wet winter.

Candy Heart pluerry flowers begging to explode.
Blueberries are going to be plentiful this spring. Look at all those flowers.
May Pride peach flowers already happily blooming.

Even among the vegetables, there are crops that do better in a drier, warmer winter.

This is a row of peppers. In some years, peppers overwinter well — not this year!

And there are vegetable crops that love this wetter, colder winter we are experiencing now.

Brussels sprouts have had a productive winter. Is it because the winter has felt more like Brussels?

In part, I grow a range of food plants because I like to eat a range of fruits and vegetables. And in part, I grow a range of food plants because the weather is always a little different each year. Sometimes we have hotter summers and sometimes we have milder summers; there are warm winters and there are cold winters.

I aim for a diversity of plants so that I’m less vulnerable to the vagaries of weather and so that I’ve always got something to eat. I’ve learned to do this through visiting others with diversified food gardens and seeing the reliable abundance such a planting approach can produce.

But yesterday I drove by a yard in the San Gabriel Valley that had only papaya and dragon fruit and annonas. All of the plants were surviving but not thriving. If that were my yard, I would not be enjoying this winter.

They’re missing out, I thought. If they substituted one of those plants for an apricot or an apple, they would be able to rejoice this winter for the sake of those plants rather than only wishing it were more suitable for their tropicals.

You might like to read my posts on the effects of cool winters versus warm winters on deciduous fruit trees.

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