You’ve decided it’s time to start your own vegetable garden in Southern California. Southern California’s moderate climate and abundant sunshine make it easier to cultivate vegetables, although some crops fare better than others.
Over the past two decades, I’ve been a devoted backyard farmer, and I always have something delicious to eat in my garden. For decades, I have learned what works and what doesn’t. Vegetables that thrive in the warm climate of Southern California are listed below.
What to Plant in Your Southern California Vegetable Garden
Tomatoes, in my opinion, are the best veggies to cultivate in Southern California. The truth is that when we think of food and crops we tend to classify them as vegetables rather than fruits.
The flavor of homegrown tomatoes is unbeatable! There is a huge variation in taste.
To ensure safe transportation and long shelf life, most supermarket tomatoes are plucked while still green. In contrast to store-bought tomatoes, cultivated tomatoes can be harvested at their optimal flavor.
You can also grow heirlooms, slicing tomatoes, canning/sauce tomatoes, and pop-in-your-mouth-from-the-vine cherry tomatoes if you have a backyard garden.
Despite the fact that tomato planting isn’t perfect, I’ve learned all the tricks to a successful harvest. See my article on how to cultivate tomatoes for more information.
Tomatoes aren’t growing as well as they should be. Tomato plant issues and solutions can be found in this article.
Since moving to Southern California, eggplants have become a staple in my vegetable garden. It’s a lot of joy to raise gorgeous heirloom varieties like the Rosa Bianca eggplant, which is purple in color.
Your eggplant may become a perennial if you live in an area without freezing temperatures (ie: it grows year round). My plant is simply allowed to winter over by cutting it back in the fall when temperatures drop. Early spring is when new sprouts begin to appear.
One of the greatest veggies to grow in California’s Southern California region is pepper. Temperatures in Southern California appear to be ideal for them because they enjoy the heat and dread the cold.
If you enjoy a little spiciness in your food, I recommend experimenting with a different pepper variety every spring. Jalapenos and stuffed peppers like poblanos are staples in my garden, but I’m always on the lookout for new varieties to add to my collection.
Not every pepper has to be hot. You can also grow bell peppers in your Southern California garden. It’s a fun way to add a dash of whimsy and color to foods like fajitas.
4. Summer Squash
Summer squash thrives in our warm Southern California climate because it grows like a weed in hot weather. The greatest place to grow it in Southern California is in an inland valley, where the soil is moist and warm.
Zucchini is one of my favorite summer squashes to plant. Check your zucchini plant every day during the hottest months of the year since zucchinis grow quickly!
It’s great to grow a monster zucchini, but it’s less flavorful than smaller zucchinis, so stick to the smaller ones for supper. Grate large zucchinis and store them in Ziploc bags for future use in zucchini bread.
Yellow crookneck squash and green or yellow patty pan squash are two other varieties of summer squash with which I’ve had luck. All of them have a distinct flavor.
5. Winter Squash
Winter squash is one of my favorite types of squash. Squash varieties that belong into this category include butternut, spaghetti, acorn, and pumpkins.
Even if winter squash is grown in the same season as summer squash, you still plant it at the same time, in the first weeks of spring. There is a longer growth season for winter squash.
During the summer, summer squash plants tend to be more compact, whereas winter squash plants tend to be more sprawling. Trellising these plants may be an option for those with limited space.
There is an undeniable sense of accomplishment in cultivating one’s own salad. It is possible to harvest a large amount of arugula and kale in a short period of time with lettuces and other salad greens.
Aeroponic Tower Gardens allow me to grow large amounts of salad in a tiny area, as well as being visually appealing.
There’s an alternative to aeroponics if you don’t want to spend the money on it. Even in small pots and garden beds, greens are still a good choice for home gardeners.
You can always have greens on hand by sowing them in a regular pattern. To guarantee that your plants mature at various rates, you should space your seeds around 10-20 days apart.
Temperatures below 90 degrees are ideal for growing greens, as they are less resistant of heat. High temperatures between 60 and 70 degrees are ideal for them.
In the late winter and early spring of the year, radishes can be a pleasant addition to a Southern California vegetable garden. Because they don’t take long to mature, you can enjoy your crop sooner rather than later.
Growing radishes is an excellent approach to teach young children to the life cycle of a crop. To pull them out of the ground is a lot of fun, and they grow quickly from seed.
If you don’t have a lot of room, give radishes a try in a container! Use the greens’ tops in salads, too!
Radishes come in a wide range of hues and forms. There are roughly 15 different heirloom kinds in the Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds Easter Basket Mix that I really like.
Why not produce your own onions? They’re so easy to grow, and they’re frequently utilized in meals. The number of bugs on my tomato plants is much reduced when I interplant onion seedlings between them.
Green onions and little bulb white onions are my go-to options, but the sky is the limit. Planting onions in the ground is as easy as growing them from the bottoms of green onions that have been tossed in water.
Another benefit of growing onions is that they can be harvested as needed because they keep for a long time in the ground.
Gardening in California is an excellent way to get your hands on California-grown garlic.
Starts of garlic are used to cultivate garlic. Planting the cloves, pointed side up, is similar to planting a bulb. For garlic to mature, it does take a considerable amount of time.
As soon as possible after planting, cease watering cloves. This will improve bulb production. In late July or early August, the tops of the cloves have completely browned and dried up, making them ready to be harvested.
Let your garlic lie in a dry, shady spot for two to three weeks to ensure that it will last.
10. Sweet Corn
In Southern California, growing sweet corn is a lot of joy. Because it takes up a lot of room, most people only grow a little bit of it as a fun experiment.
A small plot of ground with numerous rows of sweet corn will do the best job of pollinating them all at the same time. An appropriate starting point is 25 square feet with four rows of maize.
With a lesser number of stems, hand pollination is required. The extended growing season in Southern California means that you can plant rows of maize all year round, starting in March.
When it comes to growing root crops, beets rank near the top in the state. As opposed to other root vegetables, they don’t take up much space and are easy to grow.
In the late fall, I set up a drip line in a window box and began growing beets. You may pick them at the end of the year, and they’re delicious from top to bottom.
In January and February, you can plant a new crop. To ensure a successful harvest, harvest before the weather warms up.
This variety of beet is one of my favorites to grow because of its sweet flavor and eye-catching pink and white variegation.
Growing pole beans is an excellent way to add nitrogen to your garden’s soil while also providing a wonderful side dish.
Sowing beans in warm soil is critical (minimum 60 degrees). Beans, such as fava, are excellent sources of nitrogen, but you may still need to increase the amount of nitrogen in order to have a large harvest.
Overheating in the late summer (consistently above 90 degrees Fahrenheit) has slowed or stopped production for me in the past.
Keep an eye on your vines in the late spring when bean production is expected to be at its peak, and harvest the beans while they are still tender if you intend to eat them fresh. On the other hand, if there’s no chance of rain, you can let them dry on the vine.
In my years of growing beans, I’ve never had a significant harvest, so I tend to plant types like Dragon’s Tongue, which can be eaten fresh or cooked like a regular green bean.
In Southern California, cucumbers are one of the best vegetables to cultivate. As long as they are well-watered, they can be trellised and take up very little space.
I’ve discovered that lemon cucumbers grow like weeds in my backyard garden and produce reliably for months.
For best results, they should be plucked while the skin is a light yellow color and not too orange to avoid developing woody skins.
Regular English or Perisan cucumbers grow rapidly and easily, but the vines don’t seem to last long, thus succession planting is the key to a constant cucumber production. Fruit maturity occurs between 50 and 70 days after transplanting.
Herbs, while not technically a vegetable, should definitely be included in your Southern California vegetable garden, even if you don’t consider them a vegetable per se. Many herbs can be grown with little effort and in a little amount of space.
Plant the herbs that you frequently use. There is always basil in my garden. To encourage new development, pluck the blossoms off your basil plant and cut the entire plant back a couple of times during the growing season.
Herbs like parsley are a staple in my raised garden beds. I like having it on hand because it’s easy to grow and a common element in many dishes.
Thyme is easy to grow and occupies a small amount of land. In a container with other herbs like oregano and chives, it is a nice choice.
Sage grows naturally in the chaparral of Southern California, so it should do just fine in our gardens. In my flower garden, I prefer to include visually appealing herbs like sage and lavender.
Rosemary may grow to be a big hedge and is quite hardy. Because it’s so common in my area, I don’t plant it myself. There is always a neighbor who has a plant in their front yard and is willing to share it with me.
One of the toughest herbs on the market, mint may become invasive when grown in the ground. Choose a few mints that you prefer and put them in a container (I’m partial to chocolate and pineapple mint).
A Southern California vegetable garden isn’t complete without some cilantro, so don’t forget about it. Everything from salsa to rice can be improved with the addition of this essential spice.
If it becomes too hot, cilantro, which does best in cooler climates, bolts (goes to seed). I grow cilantro in my backyard during the cooler months and in a window pot in my kitchen during the hottest months of the year, respectively.
Types of Vegetables that Grow Best in Southern California
You should know the plant’s hardiness zone before you start planting. You’ll know which plants thrive in your location if you know your hardiness zone. Plant hardiness zones 8b to 11 are found in Southern California. The temperature ranges from 15 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit in these regions.
Vegetables can be grown year-round in Southern California thanks to the mild winters. Kale, collards, broccoli, lettuce, and other cool-season vegetables can be cultivated year-round.
Here are some of the greatest spring and fall crops to cultivate.
Planting vegetables during spring
The planting of cool-temperature crops in the spring in Southern California can be an extension of the season. You can grow lettuce, spinach, radishes, chard, carrots, and kale throughout this season.
During the spring and summer months, you can also plant tomatoes. It takes two to three months for most tomato seeds to germinate and grow to fruition, depending on the variety. An Armenian, Green Zebra and German Queen are among the many heirloom tomato kinds that you can grow.
As a bonus, now is a fantastic time to grow peppers! They can be planted in the spring and harvested in the middle of the summer, depending on where you live.
Planting vegetable during fall
Radishes can be planted every week from September through March in the fall. Radishes grow quickly and can be harvested in about a month and a half. Onions can be planted in the fall as well.
Carrots can be planted every 30 to 60 days for year-round yields. Preparing for Thanksgiving is easier with early fall plantings of winter vegetables like kale and collard greens.
Even though seeds take longer to germinate in the cooler months of the year, you can still plant them. Planting greens in succession is an option for mustard, chard, spinach, and other leafy greens. Beets can be planted now and harvested in March if you do so.
Types of Vegetables You Can Plant in April to Reap a Summer Harvest
You’ll be able to harvest your vegetables just in time for summer if you plant vegetable seeds in April. A wide variety of vegetables and herbs are available for harvest throughout the summer and fall, and you can plant them in the spring or early summer.
You can also grow green beans, peppers, asparagus, kale, peas, onions, tomatoes, Swiss chard, zucchini, spinach, and radishes in addition to the aforementioned veggies. The following are some of the things to keep in mind when planting in California:
There’s no reason you shouldn’t follow farmers’ lead and use this technique. Crop rotation improves plant development while also preserving the health of your soil. A good example of rotating crops is planting tomatoes in the same area as peppers were grown before harvesting.
The same nutrients can be retrieved from the soil if you grow the same crops in the same place year after year. The soil will be less stressed if you rotate your crops. You can move crops at least 10 feet away from where they were previously planted.
Add drought tolerant ground cover
Plants that don’t require a lot of water should be used to surround your crops. Spanish lavender, ice plant, blue fescue, and other rockroses are examples of plants that require little water.
Initially grow plants in containers
To save room in your yard or because you don’t enjoy tilling and preparing your garden soil, consider container gardening.. When it comes to container gardening, you’ll be able to conveniently cultivate a wide variety of in-ground crops.
Growing Your Southern California Vegetables in Greenhouses
You’re missing out if you haven’t thought of growing your crops in greenhouses. Gardeners and homesteaders alike can benefit greatly from greenhouses as an investment. As long as you have a high-quality greenhouse, you may cultivate a variety of plants and shelter them from the weather.
Many gardeners and homeowners purchase a greenhouse for the following reasons if you’re still unsure.
Grow plants in any weather
Plants can be protected from adverse weather in a greenhouse. A greenhouse can keep your plants happy even while it’s pouring down rain outside.
Grow different types of plants
You can cultivate a wide variety of plants in a greenhouse that wouldn’t otherwise be able to survive in California’s climate. Grow plants and veggies that aren’t commonly available in your area.
Create the ideal growing environment
It is possible to regulate the temperature in a greenhouse, as well as offer a suitable amount of shade and keep out pests and insects that can harm your crops. The result is better-tasting, healthier fruits and vegetables that you can eat.
Customize your greenhouse
Greenhouses can simply be customized to your preferences. As an example, you can establish various climate zones by dividing a huge greenhouse into two sections and adding heating and cooling ventilation, lights, and shades. If you have a greenhouse, you can grow both chilly and warm-season crops.
Protect plants from harmful insects
Your plants can be protected from annoying garden pests by using greenhouses. Many insects can damage your plants, including aphids, cabbage maggots, cutworms, Mexican bean beetles, and flea beetles, to name a few. In a greenhouse, you can keep your plants from wreaking havoc on them.
You can’t go wrong with a greenhouse full of California’s greatest vegetables for either a vocation or a pleasure. Krostrade has a wide selection of greenhouses that are both inexpensive and long-lasting. You may learn more about our greenhouses, which can survive even the harshest weather conditions, by contacting us today.