Austin Urban Gardens

Raised Bed Gardening and Eating Well in Austin, Texas

Early Winter in an Austin Urban Garden January 6, 2013

It is a gorgeous day today – the first day that will reach 60 degrees after 9 days of wintery weather.  The warm shining sun, feels pretty Spring-like, so I ventured out to check on my gardens, and start thinking about preparing them for Spring planting.  I know, we have a ways to go, but this time of year, you need to think ahead.

Much of my lettuce, and some broccoli, had bolted (gone to seed), with the warmer than normal temps that precluded a couple weeks of winter.  I left a couple of the broccoli plants in the garden, because the bees love the flowers, and because we need bees and I don’t need the space.  The broccoli I planted from seed, is the size of a transplant now, so those will hopefully do better since the weather cooled off.

Bolted Broccoli

Bolted Broccoli

I left some of the bolted lettuce in, last time I cleaned up the garden,  hoping it would just re-seed itself, but I pulled it up today, to make room for more.

The herb garden looks great, if not messy from falling leaves.  I use the tomato cage to support the cover for the garden when it gets close to freezing.  I’m happy to still have some cilantro growing, as well as parsley, chives, several kinds of thyme, oregano, rosemary and tarragon.


I pulled up the rest of the carrots, that occupied a half of a 4’x8′ garden.  Strawberries occupy the other half, and will remain in that space until late Spring.


This is the third harvest about this size, that I’ve had from one pack of Renee’s Garden Seeds, Carrot seeds.  I think I finally have figured out the secrets to good carrots.  I used to believe that it was thinning, and I hate thinning, so I never really had a good crop.  While thinning would provide a more uniform crop, I’ve decided that, for me, the secret is patience.  Carrots take a long time.  Some varieties say 60 days, some 60-90 and some 100 days.  Mine seem to take closer to 100 days.  I have found, that if you leave them alone long enough, some will get to full size, some will be smaller, and some won’t even mature.  They don’t pull up in a uniform bunch, and that’s just fine – they all taste good.  I’ve embraced my baby carrots.  Although the planning guides say that you can still plant carrots, I will not, because I want to plant something else in that space in early Spring, and carrots won’t be done by then.  Plus, I’m a little sick of carrots.

The newest gardens on the side of my house, are mostly occupied by onions.  I planted mine early, and they are looking just fine.  But, onions take a long time as well, so those beds will stay occupied for a few months.


I’ve got some spinach and cabbage growing, but they have been fairly growing the the cold.  The recent rains should move them along.

Cabbage and spinach

Cabbage and spinach

So, in evaluating the space available now and the space I will need in late February for my Spring planting, (not to mention what I want to eat) I decided to seed some Romaine Lettuce, which is mature in 28 to 57 Days, and some salad scallions, which should take about 65 days.  I won’t plant many of those, so they shouldn’t take much room.  This way, nearly the entire 24 foot bed and half of the 4’x 8′ bed in the back will be available for tomatoes, which I will plant in late February, weather permitting.

Organic Scallion and Romaine seeds

Organic Scallion and Romaine seeds

Gardening is so rewarding, but it does take a little planning.  Just read the back of your seed packets for maturity dates, so that you can have optimal growing space year round.


3 Responses to “Early Winter in an Austin Urban Garden”

  1. Says:

    Sent from my HTC smartphone on the Now Network from Sprint!

  2. jenj Says:

    I’ve had a horrid time with carrots too. I have them in loose soil, and it seems like they’ve been in there FOREVER, but they just. aren’t. growing. Your haul looks delicious! I may give up on them entirely in favor of plants like broccoli, which do well and are edible down to the roots. When do you plant your onions? It seems like the slips aren’t available until Feb or so, but it sounds like you planted yours in the fall?

  3. I order my onions from Dixondale Farms online and plant in November, which is earlier than the planting guides recommend. It is a trick I learned from several farmers. Planting early allows the onions to get bigger. I typically plant my bare root strawberries at the same time as the onions.

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