We just passed the Winter Solstice, the first official day of Winter, yet here in Florida we’re lucky to get temperatures in the upper 40s this time of year. Our coldest month of the year is January usually in Florida, with Christmas Day often showing temperatures in the 80s. Flip flops on Christmas? Yeah, that’s definitely my style.
Winter Gardening is really a thing here in Florida. I know some of you folks who might be reading us in the far North may not believe it, but often during Christmas week people are planting seeds to sprout for Winter and even Spring here in Central Florida.
One thing about Florida gardening – it doesn’t follow the Solstice/Equinox calendar. Let’s talk about some wild Winter gardening ideas.
Wild Winter Gardening Idea #1: Give Your Garden Some Structure
Gardening on the ground is not the only option! Sure, that’s where the dirt is (mostly!), but for many crops, you can grow VERTICAL and save some ground space. More ground space = more planted crops!
There are a lot of different structures that can be found in gardens. Some examples are Trellises, Obelisks, TeePees, Hoops, Arbors, Pergolas, Fences, Growing Tables, and more.
With a little imagination and some planning, you can really maximize your backyard space to grow as much food as possible to eat, and to share.
Here’s a past blog with some structure ideas that are GREAT to put in place in the Winter in Florida, when it’s not as hot. Take a look!
Wild Winter Gardening Idea #2: Try Some New Foods
Growing your own food is so different than going to the grocery and getting it. Often by the time it gets to the store, some of the flavors and nutrients have disappeared due to extended refrigeration.
Farmer’s markets fare better in that aspect, as the food is usually pretty local, but there’s still nothing quite like the experience of snipping lettuce leaves from the back yard, picking a few tomatoes, grabbing some arugula and nasturtium flowers, and pulling a couple carrots to assemble a beautiful salad for dinner.
There’s some foods you might not have considered trying to grow that I would encourage you to try out this year.
- Kale – comes in many colors, can be worked into the landscape even!
- Brussels Sprouts – don’t worry – you don’t have to boil them into a nasty smelly mushy mess. Roast them with olive oil and sea salt – add pieces of bacon and/or dried cranberries for a little zing! The taste GREAT fresh from the garden!
- Radishes – different sizes, colors, and flavors, radishes grow really fast and are wonderful roasted too!
- Rutabaga – Sort of like a turnip, it’s a fantastic potato replacement if you’re watching your carbs. Has similar texture and flavor when mashed. Turnips are great for potato substitutes too! I picked Rutabaga because it’s fun to say!! (try saying it five times fast, you’ll see!)
Want some more suggestions? Check out my past blogs about some of my Winter crop picks for Florida.
Wild Winter Gardening Idea #3: Start Your Planning for Spring Gardening!
I realize it’s just before Christmas. You’ve got gifts and family and friends and parties and prepping on your mind. But, let’s be honest right now: How fun is it to actually sit down with a cup of hot cocoa with a sketch pad and dream of your Spring garden?
Yeah, pretty darn fun. Of course I’m a little biased towards plant life. But the wild idea I’m pitching here is to start planning now! There’s many benefits to planning your garden early.
- If there’s any big buildouts you want to do (see Wild Idea #1), it’s much better weather in Winter than when it’s 90+ degrees every day.
- If there’s a new tool(s) or other gardening things you want to get, you still have time to ask Santa.
- Garden planning takes imagination, and when you utilize that part of your mind, your body actually relaxes in ways that wine or valium can’t do. (Don’t believe me? Here’s an article about it in Psychology Today.)
- Having a project just for you (“me time”) can help you rescue a sense of self during a time where everyone has expectations from you. (And just in case you need backup on this idea, here’s an article about it in Entrepreneur.)
Consider it a gift to your future self, planning a garden now.
There’s some of my wild ideas for Winter Gardening. Let me know some of yours!
Until next time, Keep Growing!