I’ve been meaning to do this for a long time: write up a sort of this-blog-is-in-a-Mediterranean-climate disclaimer. There’s a certain amount of awkwardness when discussing vegetable gardening in the Northern Hemisphere’s winter months. I imagine that most of the readers of this blog are either taking some time off from gardening or gardening under a hoop house. But for us here in Southern California it’s the prime agricultural season, when rain falls and the hills are green. It’s my favorite time of year. But I imagine most of you are puzzled by discussions of picking veggies in the middle of January. As puzzled as I would be about topics like bursting pipes and hoop houses.
It’s my hope that you can learn from our successes and mistakes during your winter months and apply ideas when your garden warms up. But I’m also happy to get comments from gardeners in other Mediterranean climates around the world such as South Africa. There is a lack of information about Mediterranean edible gardening in English and without that information, growing here can be frustrating. Most gardening books, websites and the info on the backs of seed packages are completely useless here. For an author, it’s not economical to write Mediterranean gardening books since the market is so small–as a percentage of the earth’s surface this climate is exceedingly rare.
Paradoxically, it’s a culturally significant climate. The foundational literature of the west–ancient classical texts and the bible–are full of references to plants such as figs, olives, pomegranates, and grapes. We have all of those plants in our front yard.
There’s also one big misconception about Los Angeles: that it’s a desert. Mediterranean climates such as ours get twice as much rainfall as do deserts. But like deserts, we have to be frugal when it comes to water. All the rain we get comes at one time. Between the late spring and early fall there is no rain at all. Those of us who live here ought to concentrate on plants adapted to long dry periods.
And because of our climate I have a house rule at Root Simple about not talking about the weather on our blog. Why? Because it’s really, really boring. Nothing ever happens. Most of the time it’s sunny. Around this time of year it rains occasionally. In June it’s kinda cloudy. That’s all there is to say.
For those of you who live here in Southern Calfiornia I’ve found a few good sources for edible gardening information:
And for those of you who live where it regularly freezes and snows, you’ll be amused to hear that in all of my years of gardening the first time that I’ve ever had plants get serious frost damage was early Tuesday night (it does occasionally dip just below freezing in the LA basin). And, I promise, that’s the last time I’ll discuss the weather.
Thankfully I’m married to a gifted writer who grew up in Colorado. When it came time to write our books she was able to recall that phenomenon called “snow.”