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How to Plant Your Own Winter Victory Garden

It appears that it’s de facto Guest Post Week over here at Homebody in Motion, and I’m pretty stoked about it. Yesterday, we had tips for estate sale shopping from Succor Estate Sales‘ Melissa Arnold, and today we bring you tips for planting a seasonal edible garden from Heart Beet Gardening‘s Sara Carnochan!

Heart Beet designs, installs, and maintains organic vegetable gardens and edible landscapes for private homes and communities right here in pastoral Los Angeles. And the company’s philosophy is that growing food should be both beautiful and productive — something we can all totally get behind.

Read on for tips for planting your very own victory garden from Heart Beet’s Sara, as well as for her own post-Thanksgiving planting process:

“The Monday after Thanksgiving weekend, I finally got around to clearing out and replanting my postage stamp of a vegetable garden. I take care of organic vegetable gardens and edible landscapes in private homes from Malibu to Pasadena, and as a result my little plot is the last garden to get any attention whatsoever. However, I was inspired by Homebody in Motion to get my fall garden going — and record my thoughts for your enjoyment and inspiration.

By November 26, one tomato bush, one cucumber vine, and my giant rosemary were the only survivors of my summer garden. Although there were a few last Sungold tomatoes to pick, and the babiest of cucumbers, I decided to pull them both out and prune back the rosemary to give myself a clean slate, and to maximize the barely 16 square feet of space I’ve liberated from my duplex’s lawn.

Cabbages and Onions in a Heart Beet Gardening-Planted Garden

Cabbages and onions in a Heart Beet-planted garden

Personally, I have a fall garden so I can add some fresh, green tastiness to the quick meals I throw together for myself. In Los Angeles, there is a surprising amount of veggies to be grown — even in a limited space. Fall and winter plants tend to be smaller and more compact than the sprawling stars of the summer garden. I chose to go with my all-time quick and dirty favorites — with a few ‘homeless’ plants left over from a new garden I installed the week before.

Towards the back of my plot, beside the rosemary, I planted broccoli and peas. The broccoli will take a while before producing, and the peas will get quite tall and need something to climb on. I repurposed my tomato cage into a pea trellis, and planted about six pea seeds around the base. 

The center of my fall garden is a couple types of kale. My favorite varieties are red Russian and dinosaur kale. The red makes big purple-tinged leaves that are great for kale chips, adding bulk to soups, or just stir frying. The dinosaur kale gets taller and produces crinkly, super-flavorful leaves that I love shredding as the base of hearty winter salad. 

Artichoke in a Heart Beet Gardening-Planted Garden


The edges of my garden are reserved for herbs and arugula. Chives, oregano, sage, and rosemary survive year after year, and don’t need to be replanted. I did put in some fresh flat-leaf parsley and some cilantro for fresh herbs. Finally I planted arugula from seed. Arugula grows in really nicely from seed, and I’ll (try to) replant seed every couple of weeks through the winter so that I always have some to add a kick to whatever I’m eating.

There are as many reasons to grow a garden as seeds in a tomato. What I chose to plant fits my needs, time, and palate, but it might not be what’s right for you. If you want to grow a winter garden, here are a few quick tips to get you started:

  • Choose a smart spot for your garden. All vegetables need six to eight hours of sunlight, regular watering, and your attention. My garden is close to my front door, which helps me pay attention to it — even when I’ve already spent six hours in someone else’s garden.
  • Plant veggies you’ll use. Vegetables that do well in Southern California’s mild winter include broccoli, cauliflower, kales, swiss chard, mustard greens, collards, arugula, lettuces, beets, carrots, peas, fava beans, and potatoes.
  • Use good soil and good compost. A healthy garden is built on healthy soil, so be sure you’re starting out on the right foot. I spread a layer of my own compost before planting. I mixed a little of that compost into each hole that I dug for my new baby plants. 
  • Have fun! Don’t be afraid to mess up your manicure *or* plants. Some of your plants might wilt, get holes, or even drop dead. If they do, just try to figure out why — and try again!

Happy gardening!”

Yes! I’m feeling inspired. Who’s ready for a planting party?

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1 Comment

  • Reply Hilary Rose November 29, 2012 at 2:07 am

    Great article, Sara!

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