It is August which means lots of gardeners are planning and planting their fall gardens, but I am more concerned about my winter garden. Don't get me wrong I planted some more squash and cucumber seeds in the hopes of getting a late fall harvest but most of my summer plants are still producing and will likely become more productive once the temperatures start to cool down.
I leave all of these summer and fall plants to go until they die after the first frost (unless they become diseased or die from something else etc. sooner) then I pull them out and get my winter garden started.
**This will only work in areas with mild winter climates!**
Once you are ready to plant your winter garden keep an eye on the weather. Look for a week or 10 days where there is no frost in the forecast and get those frost/cold hardy seeds in the ground. This gives them just enough time to sprout. Once sprouted you will be surprised how strong a tiny seedling can be. Planting seeds directly results in plants that will end up being a lot hardier since they have been exposed to cold temps from the start. You can plant starts but you will want to do the same thing, wait until their is a week or two with no frost in the forecast. This will give them time to get their roots growing and acclimated to their new home before a frost hits.
One downside of the winter sowing method is that your seedling will likely grow slower. The upside, however, is that you are able to extend your growing season and get harvests even when there is snow on the ground. You are also able to grow things that you would not be able to grow during the during spring and summer because it is just too hot for certain types of plant.
Here's what you can plant in the winter in 8b:
Peas (snap/shelling etc.)
Mustard (there are a TON of different varieties)
Onions (bulb and bunching)
Garlic (plant 4 weeks before last frost)
Celeriac (celery root)
So, if you have never grown a winter garden before I highly encourage you to give it a try. It is my favorite time of year to grow. I get a huge bounty of beautiful greens and root veggies I am otherwise unable to grow in spring/summer due to the heat in my area.
BONUS, lots of places that sell seeds have seeds on sale right now so checkout your big box stores and seed websites so you can get your winter garden going for even less money!