PASADENA, CA - APRIL 30:  Vegetable garden see...
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This was originally written for release in February 2010 for another publication, but it never appeared. Much of the information is still valid, though, even as as move through April. — Douglas

While much of the US is still buried under quite a bit of snow, out here in California we are already planting veggies in our gardens. I don’t point this out to be mean. I am from Ohio, after all, so I understand what Winter means. That said, those of you cooped up in your houses can live vicariously through those of us in warmer climes and maybe even get a few good ideas for your garden once the ground thaws.

While our warmer weather allows us to plant earlier in the season there is also a bit of necessity. Our summers are so much warmer here that traditional garden staples like lettuce, cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower simply can’t cope. Try to plant them in May and they will be bolted almost before you get them in the ground. Sure, we can get tomatoes earlier, but in the middle of summer they can suck up a small fortune in water to keep them going. So, now is the time for us to get all our cold weather vegetables into the ground so we can get our harvest before the 100+ temperatures shrivels them in the ground.

This can make your garden planning for your summer much easier, though. Seek out garden bloggers in warmer areas to get an early idea what the neatest, coolest, best producing varieties are new this year. You can even get some real-world feedback on how well they do before you need to start your own seedlings. It is true,though, that good news about certain plants could have you looking for space to hang grow lights and set up irrigation systems trying to get jump on your own garden.

Here are a couple of hints on how you can use warm climate gardeners as your get your started in your own garden (and kitchen) planning for the coming season.

* Check out online forums and see what others are planning and what they might already be planting.

Share your experience with others. What worked (or didn’t work) for you last year? What are you going to trying this year? You’ll find people from all over the country and the globe.

* Start collecting recipes that can make use of your garden bounty.

Gardening planning is always easier when you have some obvious goal in mine. Online recipe files have thousands of possibilities for all sorts of vegetables.

* Seek out garden bloggers. We all love sharing what is happening in our gardens.

You can use Google or other search engines to locate gardeners both in your area and around the world.

* Use restaurants as your guide

Many higher-end restaurants specialize in using new and interesting ingredients in the dishes. Consider the ingredients in an interesting dish, especially one’s new to you and how they might fit into your garden. Then, seek out these plants in seed catalogs and your local nurseries.

*Be adventurous!

Try something new this year.

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