Travel & Places United States

Winter in the Desert Vrings an Abundance of Fruits and Veggies

Winter is citrus season in the Valley of the Sun. Oranges and grapefruit overfill the produce bins. Keen shoppers keep an eye out for the more unusual citrus varieties such as clementines, tangelos, cara cara and blood oranges, pummelos and Meyer lemons.

Our farmers' markets are in full swing with an abundance of lettuces, leafy greens and winter herbs. Leeks make their first appearance, along with cabbages, Brussels sprouts and broccoli.

Root veggies such as beets, parsnips, turnips and rutabagas increase in sweetness as the weather turns colder.

Adopted foods such as peas, lentils and wheat grow on native farms nourished by the gentle winter rains.

Here's what you can find during December and January at the farmers' markets and in your own vegetable garden in the Greater Phoenix area.

Fruits and Vegetables in Season: December and January

  • Arugula
  • Beets
  • Bok choy and other Asian greens
  • Broccoli
  • Broccoli raab
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage (green, red and Asian varieties)
  • Cauliflower
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Cilantro
  • Clementines
  • Dill
  • Grapefruit (all varieties)
  • Green onions (bunching onions and I'itoi)
  • Greens (collards, dandelion, escarole, mustard, rapini, Swiss chard)
  • Kale (Tuscan and Russian)
  • Kohlrabi
  • Leeks
  • Lemons (first Meyers, then Lisbons)
  • Lettuce (baby mix and other varieties)
  • Oranges (Blood, Cara Cara, Navel and Valencia)
  • Parsnips
  • Radishes
  • Rutabaga
  • Spinach
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Tangelos
  • Turnips

Comments from the Phoenix Expert:

If you have a vegetable garden and /or citrus trees in your own yard you will be happily harvesting fresh fruits and vegetables for your family for every meal.

Even though Phoenix is located in the Desert, it can get cold during December evenIeven and it is important to protect your fruit and vegetable plants and trees from frost. Here are some tips for plant frost protection.

You can probably start picking citrus from your trees in December, but they will continue to improve in flavor over the next few months. Over the years, citrus trees will tend to produce more fruit than any one normal-sized family can consume. This is the time to remember your neighbors, your local senior center and service people who regularly come to your home, like the pest control guy, postal delivery person and yard service people. Various local communities also have citrus collection drives each year top help out those people who needs nutritious foods for their family.

Don't leave vegetables, fruits or citrus on the garden too long after ripening. As they get overripe they are susceptible to being nibbled on by local wildlife and insects. Rotting fruit may also attract roof rats. That's not a good thing!

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