Southern California Planting Guide
Southern California’s moderate climate means that you can grow just about anything you would like with at least some success. So, whether you love asparagus, apples, celery, or zucchini, you can give them a try in your garden. Of course, there are some fruits and vegetables that grow particularly well here and are better choices for beginner gardeners or folks looking for bigger harvests.
Best Fruits and Vegetables to Grow in Southern California
To help you decide what to grow, here are 15 of the best fruits and vegetables to grow in Southern California:
- Citrus fruits
- Swiss chard
- Squashes, such as zucchini and pumpkins
When to Plant Vegetables in Southern California
Part of determining when to plant vegetables in Southern California depends on how you are going to plant them. If you will be starting your seeds indoors, you may get started weeks earlier than a gardener who is planting seeds in the ground outside. Plus, if one person plants seeds outside and one plants seedlings outside on the same day, the gardener who planted the seeds will be waiting longer for their harvest.
It is also important to note that there are significant climate differences in different parts of Southern California and even within the same county. For example, a garden in Oceanside will be managed very differently than a garden in Julian. The closer you are to the ocean, the more moderate the climate will be. This generally allows for a longer growing season and allows you to grow food throughout the year. In areas with frosts and freezes, particularly hard freezes, it is much more important to plant various vegetables at the appropriate time. Plus, you will have fewer options if planning on gardening outside in winter.
If you live in an area that has freezes or frosts, you will need to be aware of the last frost and first frost. Most of your planting will happen after the last frost and most of your harvesting will be completed before the first frost.
Because Southern California is home to many communities with diverse climates, please note that this is a general planting guide. If you live in inland areas, particularly in the mountains, desert, or high desert, your best planting times might vary some. You will find it helpful to know your hardiness zone or climate zone. You can find your USDA Hardiness Zone here, or you can find your Sunset Climate Zone here.
January is a good time to start seeds indoors for a mid- to late-spring harvest, particularly if you are planning on growing lettuces, tomatoes, celery, peppers, chard, spinach, eggplant, radishes, kale, or broccoli. You can also start beets, cauliflower, and cabbage indoors in January.
As long as you are past your last frost (or live in an area with no frost), you can start planting in the ground in February. You can either plant the seedlings you started indoors in January, plant seeds in the ground, or transplant vegetable plants you find at a local nursery or purchase online. If you have not had your last frost yet, you can start seeds inside for carrots, cucumbers, kale, lettuces, cantaloupe, pumpkins, zucchini, and onions.
If you are planting or transplanting outside in your garden, now is a good time to plant carrots, radishes, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuces, kale, and chard.
If you are hoping for Halloween pumpkins, make sure you plant your seeds in March. This is also when most folks can plant seedlings or transplants in their garden. If you want to start seeds indoors still, you could do cucumber, brussel sprouts, or squashes and you should still be fine. If you are planting outdoors, this month is a good month to plant tomatoes, celery, spinach, lettuces, peppers, cauliflower, carrots, beets, cucumbers, corn, and watermelons.
April is really your last chance to get Halloween pumpkins started, so if you didn’t start them in March, be sure to start them in early April. Other fruits and vegetables you can plant in April include squashes, watermelons, eggplants, cucumbers, cantaloupe, beans, carrots, and peppers. If possible, plant towards the beginning of the month.
As we move towards the end of spring and into the beginning of summer, you will begin harvesting some of the foods you planted earlier in the year. You can also start another round of planting or do your first planting for cantaloupe, corn, eggplant, cucumber, beans, beets, squashes, peppers, and chard.
It is starting to get a bit late in the season and a bit too warm to plant most food plants in your garden. By now, you should be harvesting some of your earlier plantings. You can still get away with successfully planting some vegetables in your garden this month, including beans, zucchini, peppers, and corn, but it is getting late in the year.
There are some beans and squashes you can plant in July. Pepper and tomato plants transplanted at this time will likely do just fine as well. Other than that, July is a time to keep an eye on soil moisture and continue to enjoy the fruits of your previous labor.
August is the month where you can start planting your second round of food plants for a late-fall or winter harvest. Try to wait until the end of the month, since this is not an ideal time for planting. You can transplant tomatoes or peppers any time in the month. You can also start cucumbers, celery, beans, and zucchini.
September is a good month to start another round of carrots. This is also a good time to plant celery or to start seeds indoors for beets, beans, cauliflower, or cucumbers that you can transplant to your garden once the weather cools off a bit.
The weather is starting to cool off now and it is time to really get your fall and winter garden going. This month, you can plant beans, broccoli, beets, cabbage, celery, kale, onions, collards, garlic, carrots, spinach, parsnips, chard, lettuces, peas, tomatoes, and peppers. If you are planning on adding any fruit trees to your garden, now is a good time.
If you are not expecting a frost or freeze in your area, November is a good time to plant garlic, beans, peas, cabbage, broccoli, kale, parsnips, chard, radishes, lettuces, carrots, turnips, spinach, collards, and beets. This is also a good time to plant fruit trees.
In areas with moderate climates, December Southern California garden planting can include lettuces, kale, radishes, broccoli, cabbage, spinach, turnips, beets, leeks, parsnips, and chard.