Marin Master Gardeners
University of California
Marin Master Gardeners

Our Gentle Winters are Good for Vegetables

While your ornamental garden is resting during winter months, you can grow edibles now because our temperate Mediterranean climate and winter rains help with water demands. Real winter edibles like cool weather with day temperatures between 60 - 65F.  Good candidates are fava beans, leeks and peas.

Fava Beans, cultivated since Antiquity
Legumes like fava beans also double as a cover crop of "green manure" and release nitrogen from roots into the soil.  This promotes strong leaf growth and plant development. Before planting prep the soil by laying down several inches of organic compost.  If the soil is heavy with clay, like most of Marin, add some fir bark to improve air and water penetration.

Fava beans are one of the oldest cultivated crops, and are native to the Mediterranean region and a favorite winter crop in California. Seeds can be planted about 2 inches deep and about 8 inches apart since they become small bushes, with seed pods up to 18 inches long containing 10-12 large beans.  If you like lima beans, you will like fava beans which have a distinct creamy texture.  More on fava beans here

L leeks


Leeks can be planted easily with nursery starts which are relatively inexpensive. They tolerate mild winters and can be harvested throughout the year. Homemade leek soup and leek quiche come to mind immediately.


L peas

Peas are tolerant of mild frost. You can place snap peas or shelling peas in the ground about 2 inches down.  Don't forget to give them a pole to climb, and if birds are around cover the new sprouts with a light-weight mesh cover to protect them while letting let the sun and rain in. 

More on growing winter edibles here, including other winter crops options

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