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DIRT THERAPY By Marianne Taylor
DIRT THERAPY By Marianne Taylor

By Marianne Taylor

With autumn comes shorter days, longer nights and amber light afternoons whispering for you to come out and play in the garden. This is the perfect time to plant your bulbs, flowers, seeds, vegetables and native plants. Although we had a little rain come our way this month, we can be hopeful that more rain will be on the horizon in the coming months. In Southern California, we’re lucky to live in a temperate climate that supports year-round flower and vegetable gardens. Whether you’re an avid gardener or new to gardening, here are some tips to help you establish your fall and winter gardens.


If you haven’t done so already, it’s time to pull out the summer flowers and vegetables that have stopped producing and start preparing the beds with amended soil for cool season crops like salad greens, spinach, beets, carrots and peas.

With the current drought situation, it is important to hand-water in the early morning to get the young vegetables established. November and December rains usually help continue the vegetable growing cycle. Until the winter rains come, it’s best to continue hand-watering daily in the morning.

When planting vegetables in raised beds or containers, you want to make sure that you have good drainage, otherwise the roots will start to rot and your vegetables will not be happy. If you live in a small space, consider a vertical garden, which uses less space, soil and water to get established and produce an abundance.


With the holidays just around the corner, this is a great time to start your windowsill box herb garden. Herbs are not only used for cooking, but are known to have soothing and healing properties. A thriving herb garden will allow you to experiment and create your own delicious tea recipes—try basil, thyme, rosemary and Italian parsley.

Listed below are 35 cool season vegetables, herbs and edible flowers that actually prefer cooler nights and warm shorter days. All have been found to do well in Orange County.

  • Arugula
  • Beans
  • Bok Choy
  • Borage
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Calendula
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Chives
  • Collards
  • Cilantro
  • Dill
  • Endive
  • Kale
  • Kohlrabi
  • Lavender
  • Leeks
  • Lettuce
  • Marigold
  • Marjoram
  • Mint
  • Mizuna
  • Mustard greens
  • Nasturtium
  • Pansies
  • Parsley
  • Peas
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Spinach
  • Swiss chard
  • Thyme
  • Violas

Time spent now in the garden will yield beautiful, bountiful, beneficial flowers and vegetables this winter and spring. To learn more, join Goin Native Therapeutic Gardens and the UCCE Master Gardeners of OC on Saturday, Nov. 12 from 9:30-10:30 a.m. at the Reata Park and Event Center in San Juan Capistrano for a free class on growing cool climate vegetables. To RSVP, email or call 949.606.6386. For more information on future classes, visit

Marianne Taylor, of San Juan Capistrano, is the founder and executive director of Goin Native Therapeutic Gardens, a 501(c)(3) teaching gardening and life skills as a way of empowering, engaging and connecting people. Goin Native focuses on educating local families, special needs adults, seniors, at-risk youth and members of the military.

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