Winter gardening in California seems to be split into two segments divided by December and January. If you get organized by mid September you can have a crop of winter veggies already growing and some harvested by Christmas. If you decide in December that you want a winter garden all is not lost - you can plant again in February and harvest in time for your summer garden. I like getting started in the fall as you get a jump start on the slugs and snails. The dry conditions seem to hamper their movements. In the spring they are a force to be reckoned with, but if your peas are already established then you aren't providing these dastardly molluscs with the tender shoots they prefer.
If you look at the Cool Season planting charts on the Master Gardeners website you'll notice that generally it is not recommended to plant in December/January. My guess is that the soil temperature in the heart of the winter gets too low, but as the soil warms up in late January/February the heat kicks in and gets germination going again. Sometimes, if the daytime temperatures are higher than average, you can get away with planting during these months. Likewise, if the weather gets cool quickly in the fall or lingers in the low figures into spring, germination will be effected. Experiment - that's what I do!
This year, I planted a whole bed of beetroot. And even when I follow all the correct procedures, it is still a delightful surprise when things grow! By the start of December, you could tell that about half of them were ready to be harvested by the way they were pushing themselves out of the ground, just begging to be picked.
I get carried away when buying seeds and I had planted 5 different types of beets. I was able to label my Detroit reds, my Dutch baby ball beets, and the gourmet golden beets, but Renee's Garden Jeweled toned beets have three seeds types in one packet. In the end the entire bed became one big beet potluck!
There are still cosmos blooming bravely at the back door despite the cold. So I took this picture especially for May Dreams Gardens Garden Bloggers Bloom Day.