Garden of Eatin'

The Last Remnants of Summer

The last tomatoes and tomato plants

It seems strange to be talking about summer when we’re well into fall, and winter will be coming next month. But gardening in my Southern California microclimate comes in two long seasons — summer and winter. Sure, I get my seeds going in spring and fall, but those plants will span the next season and then some, turning a typically seasonal crop like tomatoes into an almost-perennial plant.

Just last week, I finally pulled the last of the tomato plants — started in spring, peaked in summer, still at it in fall — and only because I needed the space for root crops. All the Florida weave trellises were disassembled, and a rainbow of late-season tomatoes in all stages of ripeness was harvested.

Disassembling Florida weave trellises

Disassembling Florida weave trellises

Harvesting a rainbow of late-season tomatoes in all stages of ripeness

I even pulled out some perfectly healthy tomato plants that were still as green and productive as ever, like the one in this picture below — but with last weekend’s incoming storm, I didn’t want all those tomatoes to start rotting. So out went the tomato plants, and in went the Romanesco broccoli seedlings (if you’ve ever grown this broccoli, you know that it needs a lot of space!).

Pulling out the last tomato plants

While we were cleaning up the yard, we also pulled up the last Zucchino Rampicante plant (with a handful of scrumptious baby zucchinis) and pruned the mulberry tree. The larger plant materials went through our chipper, but despite looking like a massive pile, it barely turned into a bucketful of mulch.

Cleaning up the yard

The rest of that chaos got piled up next to our compost area, where it will magically shrink and turn into black gold next year.

Piling up plants in the compost area

The finished compost from last season was dug into the soil, and with more of my raised beds open, I sowed carrots, radishes, snow peas, green peas, turnips, parsnips, and daikon this week. By New Year’s, they should be going strong.

Who else has a winter garden starting?

About Author

I'm a plant lover, passionate road-tripper, and cookbook author whose expert advice and bestselling books have been featured in TIME, Outside, HGTV, and Food & Wine. The No-Waste Vegetable Cookbook is my latest book. Garden Betty is where I write about modern homesteading, farm-to-table cooking, and outdoor adventuring—all that encompass a life well-lived outdoors. After all, the secret to a good life is... Read more »