by Ann Clary and C. Darren Butler
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Gardeners often think of growing vegetables in containers, but may not think of growing cool season vegetables in containers through fall and winter. In many mild-winter areas of California, containers are an excellent way to grow small amounts of cool season vegetables: without the summer heat, containers don’t require constant watering and they can be moved to provide the best sun exposure, with a full sun southern or western exposure best from fall through late winter and a southern or southeastern exposure best from late winter through late spring.
Here are four cool season vegetables with variety recommendations that make excellent container plants:
Arugula: Roquette Wild Arugula is a GardenZeus favorite. Its strong flavor and narrow leaves make it an ideal addition to salads and pizzas. Arugula is among the easiest and fastest-growing garden greens. When soil moisture is reasonably consistent and temperatures are seldom above about 70° F, it tolerates many otherwise adverse conditions. Quick to germinate, arugula leaves are ready for harvest in 30 days. For complete information on growing arugula, click here.
Carrot: Round of Paris carrots are fabulous: the sweet, tender flavor makes them ideal for roasting and their short roots make them great for containers. Carrots produce the highest-quality, most-tender roots in soil temperatures of about 60 to 70° F. Ready for harvest about 65 days after germination. For complete information on growing carrots, click here.
Garlic: Softneck garlic only is normally planted during fall in warm-winter California areas. For best yields, avoid planting garlic sold at markets or as food because of higher likelihood for plant disease and possible treatment to inhibit sprouting. Garlic grows and bulbs best in full sun during cool weather of about 50°F to 75°F. Garlic has a long growing season, usually about 5 – 8 months depending on variety and growing conditions. For complete information on growing garlic, click here.
Radish: GardenZeus highly recommends French Breakfast Radish. With red tops and white tips, these lovely radishes have a mild flavor. Great for eating alone or slicing for salads. Radishes are generally unfussy and thrive in any cool, sunny area with reasonably loose and fertile soil. They are easy to germinate, and reach harvest size in approximately 28 days. For complete information on growing radish, click here.
Select one of the root vegetables, carrot, radish or garlic, then add arugula to fill in the spaces. Arugula, radish and carrot all have a relatively short time to harvest, while garlic is longer. Simply leave your garlic plants in the containers through the spring and add warm season flowers or vegetables.
All four vegetables prefer uniformly moist but not wet soil; none is drought tolerant. Do not allow soil to dry between waterings.
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