Winter Gardening in Zone 9

By: Dan Hagan - Managing Editor

One of the greatest advantages to gardening in Zone 9 is the ability to garden year-round. While much of the country is shoveling snow, Zone 9 Gardeners will still be shoveling dirt and compost in their very productive winter gardens.

Zone 9 Winters

Winters in Zone 9 are known to be mild with very little time spent under the freezing point. The USDA list the chance for the first frost in Zone 9 as December 15th and the last chance as February 15th. That is only a 2 month window with a chance of frost (of course, these dates may be off a little bit, but they are the averages the USDA has settled on).

Zone 9 Winter Crops

Because of the mild winters, there are many crops that can flourish here during the winter. Here are a few of the most popular:

  • Lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Celery
  • Cauliflower
  • Peas
  • Carrots

Hard Freeze Suggestions

There will be many parts of Zone 9 that will not experience a hard freeze during a given winter, but there will be a few nights that some areas will. Most crops will require protection from a hard freeze, and there are many commercially available products that will protect the plants from the cold, but here are a few simple methods to protect your plants with items you probably already have around your home and garden.

Cotton Blankets – Covering your crops with a cotton blanket overnight will help protect them from a hard freeze. Some gardeners even place a 24 hour hand warmer on the soil under the blanket to help keep the temperatures under the blanket at a comfortable range for the crops. Be sure to uncover the plants when the temperatures rise to help prevent complications from the plants being covered.

Water Plants Before Freeze – The day before a hard freeze is predicted thoroughly water your crops. The water will add insulation to the soil as well as the plant cells. Damp soil tends to stay warmer than dry soil, and the warmer the soil, the warmer the plants around it.

Bring Plants Indoors – If any of your crops are in containers, bring them indoors for the evening. Keeping them in a garage or room of the house should provide enough warmth to protect the plants from even a long term freeze event.

Enjoy Gardening in the Winter

Some crops, such as spinach and lettuce, will only grow well during the winter in our warm climate and while there is the possibility of a few challenges from a rare hard freeze, gardening in Zone 9 winters can be quite rewarding.

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