Today is Palo Alto’s First Frost Date…

….and I haven’t seen frost in the garden yet.

According to, our lowest temperature so far this season has been 34 degrees on November 9th. That was the morning I woke up to frost on our neighbor’s roof, but the garden seemed fine with no significant frost damage.

The average low temps in December and January are 38 and 39° F. I wonder if it’s possible that we’ll never get below freezing at night at all? I think I underestimated just how mild these winters would be. Could I have planted a winter garden here?

I have to remember that just because the plants won’t freeze, it doesn’t mean they will grow. Not only do plants need a certain amount of heat, they need sunlight too. In these winter months, we have less than 10 hours of bright sunlight, and my garden plot – which is already on the shadier side – gets even less light. I was out in the garden just before 1 PM the other day, and it was already in shade. The growth of my kale and mustard greens has, not surprisingly, essentially stalled.

So, what I need to do next year, is A) get the plants in the ground in early fall so they have enough time to mature before the dark winter days set in and B) pick the sunniest spot for my fall plants. That way, they’ll be guaranteed to get as much sunlight as possible in winter. Hopefully, since I don’t have to worry so much about a freeze, I can leave the plants in the ground and slowly harvest from them all winter!

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