12 Vegetables You Can Grow in Winter
A Guide to Planting and Harvesting Winter Vegetables

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
November 1, 2023

If grocery-store produce has you wishing for something fresh from the garden in winter, consider this: you can grow a surprising number of vegetables throughout the winter in our moderate south coast BC maritime climate. (Article continues below slideshow.)


Winter Salad Greens include arugula, bok choi, chicories, lettuce, mache, mustards and spinach. They grow slowly due to low light. Mulch well, and harvest as baby greens or braising mix.
Broccoli can survive most cool maritime winters but may not tolerate sustained freezing weather. Plant a sprouting broccoli variety for a continuous crop of side shoots throughout the winter.
Brussels sprouts are very hardy, and frost makes them sweeter. If you plant in June, they are ready to eat by November or December.
Certain carrot varieties, such as Danvers, store well in the ground. Sow in July, size them up by October, and pull them fresh in the winter.
Chard is frost-hardy and will make it through most winters. Sow from April to June for fall and winter harvest.
Collards are hardy and survive all winter in a coastal marine climate. The large leaves make good wraps.
Kale is one vegetable you can count on throughout the winter. It is easy to grow and hardy, even in freezing temperatures. The leaves become sweeter after a frost.
Leeks are a great onion substitute that grow fresh in cold weather. Slow to mature, they need to be planted in the spring for the fall and winter harvest.
Curly parsley reliably survives the cold, even on frosty days, and provides a leafy garnish. Hamburg parsley, grown for the root, can be harvested from September to March and cooked like any root vegetable.
Parsnips are similar to carrots. If well mulched, they will store well under the winter soil and provide a delicious root vegetable for roasting.
Scallions are Spanish onions that due to low winter light do not form a bulb during cold weather. Protect with mulch and pull them fresh throughout the winter.
Turnips can be a good early winter root crop. Pick them small for milder flavour. Best grown under a cloche or tunnel.
Winter Salad Greens include arugula, bok choi, chicories, lettuce, mache, mustards and spinach. They grow slowly due to low light. Mulch well, and harvest as baby greens or braising mix.

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Pumpkin Apple Bread

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
October 6, 2023


This recipe for Pumpkin Apple Bread pairs two fall favourites, pumpkins and apples, in a deliciously spiced bread. Moist and full of flavour, this sweet bread works well with canned or fresh pumpkin and almost any kind of apple. To capture the taste of the season, try using a fresh pie pumpkin (sugar pumpkin)—just bake, scrape out the pumpkin’s flesh, and puree it in a food processor.

Pumpkin Apple Bread
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A Handful of Walnuts Can Help Your Heart
A Rich Plant-Based Source of Omega-3s

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
September 12, 2023

A handful of walnuts a day could make a great difference to the health of your heart, research shows.

A handful of walnuts can help your heart

Walnuts are an important plant source of Omega-3 fatty acids.

In a study in the journal Metabolism in 2013, German physicians confirmed that walnuts can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. By eating just a handful of raw walnuts (43 grams/1.5 ounces) each day for eight weeks, subjects improved their blood lipid profiles, bringing about a significant six percent reduction in heart disease risk.

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10 Tips for Year-Round Vegetable Gardens
Best Techniques for a Sustainable Four-Season Garden

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
August 3, 2023

Gardeners often ask how they can grow and harvest vegetables all year long. Here are our top ten tips for a sustainable, organic year-round garden:

Plant a winter garden. Tips for a sustainable year-round garden.

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Tests Reveal Benefits of Eating Organic
Surprising Pesticide Levels From Eating Conventional Foods

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
July 2, 2023

Is eating organic worth it? A study in the journal Environmental Research says yes. The research, conducted on four families across the United States, offers a snapshot of how pesticides in our food accumulate in our bodies.

Video: Organic for All  (from Friends of the Earth Action)

The Test: Conventional vs. Organic Diet

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Quinoa, Tomato and Mozzarella Salad

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
June 6, 2023


This refreshing salad combines the tang of sweet cherry tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and garlic with quinoa in a fresh basil vinaigrette. For a sharper flavour contrast, try this salad with crumbled feta or blue cheese.
Quinoa, Tomato and Mozzarella Salad. BC Farms and Food.
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Plant a Bee Attracting Garden
Urban Gardeners Can Help Provide Habitat for Bees

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
April 26, 2023

By planting native flowers, plants and herbs, you can create habitat in your garden and help rebuild threatened bee populations.

Mason bee on a pear blossom. Plant a Bee Attracting Garden.

A mason bee on a pear blossom in a bee garden.

Most of us are familiar with honey bees. In addition, Canada has 800 species of native bees, ranging from tiny black foragers to blue orchard bees and yellow-striped bumblebees. The survival of these important pollinators is essential to the reproduction of approximately three-quarters of the fruit, nuts, vegetables and herbs we eat.
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How Open Source Seeds Can Increase Food Security
Keeping Seeds in the Public Domain

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
March 22, 2023

Open source seeds increase food security by keeping seeds in the public domain.

Open Source Seeds

As community food movements bloom across North America, their efforts to provide food security face a nearly invisible threat from multinational seed patent holders like DuPont and Monsanto (Bayer)—the loss of public domain seed. Unlike traditional seeds, which have been passed down from generation to generation, patented seeds cannot be saved, replanted or shared by gardeners and farmers.
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Growing a Patio Lemon Tree in Winter
How to Grow Lemons Outdoors Year-Round in a Northern Climate

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
February 14, 2023

Want to grow fresh lemons on your patio in the winter? With a few simple protective measures lemon trees can adapt to outdoor year-round growing in a cool northern climate.

Video: Growing a Winter Patio Lemon Tree


For me, the best lemons grow in winter: fragrant blossoms and juicy, fresh citrus fruit when most everything else in the garden is cold and dormant.

I brought home my little potted Meyer lemon tree on a whim. The idea of growing citrus outdoors appealed to me. I’d heard that lemon trees are hardy enough to survive our Canadian South Coast British Columbia winters (plant hardiness zone 9).

Citrus trees are subtropicals that typically grow in warm, sunny places like California and Florida. Growing a subtropical lemon tree outdoors in the north takes extra work and care.
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Roasted Sweet-and-Sour Beets

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
December 22, 2022


Roasting brings out the intensity of the beets in this tangy side dish. You can roast (and freeze) the beets ahead to save time, and prepare the rest in a quick 2 minutes! Choose baby beets for sweetest flavour. Roasted sweet-and-sour beets are good as an appetizer or as an accompaniment for almost any main dish.

Roasted Sweet and Sour Beets

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15 Plants that Help Bees through the Winter
Cold Hardy Flowers, Trees and Shrubs that Benefit Bees

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
November 20, 2022

You can help bees through the winter by growing plants and flowering trees that bloom during the colder seasons. (Article and plant guide continue below slideshow.)

Calendula (Pot Marigold) reliably blooms until November in coastal areas. Cut back spent flowers for continued blooms. In mild years with no hard frost, calendula blooms all winter and provides early spring flowers for bees and flower flies.
Garlic Chives, also called Chinese Chives, produce clusters of lightly-scented star-shaped flowers that attract bees and butterflies. Blossoms span from early summer to November. Hardy perennial herb.
Cornflower, also called Bachelor’s Button, blooms in late spring and continues until November or longer if weather is mild. This self-seeding annual is a good source of nectar, and attracts bees and other pollinators with its bright blue flowers. NOTE: Although commonly found in wildflower mixes, cornflower is considered an invasive plant in BC, so take care to grow it in only  in pots or confined areas.
Snapdragons are usually grown as annuals, but can overwinter in mild winters. The lovely bright coloured flowers bloom in cool weather, spring or fall, and continue into November. Snapdragon is an attractive pollinator flower for bumblebees.
Hardy fuchsia blossoms provide a good source of nectar into the fall. The attractive hanging flowers supply food for bumblebees and hummingbirds. Hardy fuchsias bloom throughout the summer until November and the winter frost.
Borage is a hardy annual herb that flowers in June or July and continues into November. Borage does not survive a hard frost. Bees and other pollinators are attracted by the bright blue star-shaped flowers.
Verbena <i>bonariensis</i> (shown above) blooms from early summer to November. Its tall clustered blooms of tiny magenta flowers attract bees and butterflies. A perennial in zones 7–11, verbena can be grown as an annual in colder zones.
Chamomile is an annual that grows well into the cold season. The clustered daisy-like small white and yellow flowers, commonly used for tea,  are fragrant attractors for pollinators and other beneficial insects. Chamomile blooms from June to November. Self-seeding.
Yarrow's tiny close-packed flower clusters provide nectar for pollinators. Yarrow blooms from spring to November. Cut back the flowers after their first bloom for continued flowering. In mild years with no hard frost, yarrow will bloom in winter.
Rosemary has small blue flowers that attract bees. This hardy herb blooms at different times of the year, often in March, April or November. Prune this shrub after flowering, but not back to the bare wood. Flowers appear only on new wood.
Primrose, a hardy perennial, likes a cool, well-drained growing area. It is long regarded as a herald of spring. In south coast BC, primrose blooms from midwinter to spring, with a reprise in October or November.
Heather brings colour in winter with tiny flowers that attract honey bees and bumblebees. This hardy perennial typically buds in November. However, an established heather plant can bloom from September to May.
Oregon Grape <i>(Mahonia aquifolium),</i> a tall evergreen native shrub with prickly, holly-like leaves, is a good early attractor for bees and other pollinators. Sprays of small yellow flowers bloom anytime from November through March.
Crocus, Snowdrop and Hyacinth bulbs provide early nectar and pollen for honey bees. The flowers often open in late January and February, providing some of the earliest blooms of the season.
Early-blooming fruit trees such as cherry and apple trees flower in February. With each tree bearing hundreds of flowers, they provide a large concentrated food source for pollinators.
Calendula (Pot Marigold) reliably blooms until November in coastal areas. Cut back spent flowers for continued blooms. In mild years with no hard frost, calendula blooms all winter and provides early spring flowers for bees and flower flies.

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