California has the best climate for gardening
This article first appeared in the 9/11/20 edition of the Davis Enterprise
California is best known for its warm weather and predictable weather patterns. These same qualities are one of the reasons California is one of the best places for agriculture and home gardening. This is especially true in the Central Valley where much of the state’s agricultural land is located. We do not get the freezes and frosts that areas closer to the Sierra’s get, but we also do not get nearly as hot during the summer as southern California.
Much of California has a moderate climate very similar to the Mediterranean. There are over 200 crops grown in California each year, some such as avocadoes and dates are grown more here than anywhere else in the United States. The Central Valley in California is over 18,000 square miles in size, approximately 60 miles wide and 450 miles long, it is the most productive region in California in terms of agriculture.
California is broken up into a number of growing “zones” depending on local first and last frosts, as well as yearly rainfall and local climates. The Central Valley has a few different zones but mostly rests in Zone 9. In zone 9, the last frost of the winter is typically in early March, with the first frost arriving mid-December. This leaves much of the year optimal for growing, sometimes even more than one crop has time to mature and be harvested.
Right now, in early September is the midst of the second growing season in zone 9. Most of what is being planted is hardy vegetables as we can still experience some extreme heat. Some of the crops that can be expected to be planted and harvested this fall are beans, beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, and cauliflower. Also, common but later in the fall are chard, collards, cucumber, kale, lettuce, peas, and spinach. Much of our dark, leafy greens are what are gown during this time of year as a second crop. Many of these plants can be started indoors during the hottest part of the summer and be transplanted outside to finish their growing.
Students can learn more about how to garden in our local zone 9 at our Fall and Winter Gardening Fall Camp. Students will learn how to grow new food from things that are already in their pantry or refrigerator. The more food we grow the less we have to buy, so it's good for saving money, and growing your own food is great for the planet. Registration for Fall Camps is ongoing and can be found at http://www.explorit.org/programs/fall-camps/fall-camps-2020.
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