Spring is in the Air…
It’s that time again to start thinking and planning your spring garden. Maybe this year try planting something new or exotic to add to your table this summer. Or considering adding flowers in between plants for some color and pest control.
I know I have gotten into the comfort zone over the last few years with my planting. This year might be the year to try that Chilacayote or Kohlrabi!
There are two big shifts in Southern Californian gardening: At the end of September, beginning of October it’s all about the winter crops. At the end of February, beginning of March, the focus all shifts to summer and the heat lovers. Seeds get started slightly before then with the right conditions.
- Rotate families of crops to avoid disease. Some major crop families are: nightshade family (tomatoes, peppers, eggplants), mustard family (radishes, turnips, cabbage, broccoli and other cole crops), legume family (beans and peas), gourd family (squash), goosefoot family (purslane and Swiss chard), and parsley family (cilantro, fennel, anise parsnip, dill).
- When replanting areas where you have just grown vegetables, follow heavy-feeding leafy vegetables like spinach and cabbage with nitrogen-replenishing legumes such as peas, beans, and soybeans; or plant less-demanding root crops.
- Trellises provide support for greater fruit production per square foot of soil and for longer periods because more leaf area is exposed to sunlight for more photosynthesis and more air circulation that means less fruit rot and ground-insect attack.
- It is important to properly read the seed packet. Note: the date of the seeds, because you do not want to plant old seeds; disease resistance; germination and days to maturity; mature size of plant, for spacing; and cultural needs such as sun and water needs and time to plant.
Take advantage of maturation time, and use succession planting so that all of one crop is not ready to harvest at once, unless you want to harvest everything at once for preserving. Plant every 2-3 weeks for continuous harvests.
When seedlings are transplanted, change to a less-frequent and deeper watering pattern to encourage roots to grow deeply into the soil for moisture.
During summer, do your transplanting in the late afternoon or evening so plants have the whole night to begin to recover before they’re hit with a full day of sun and heat. Transplant seedlings close enough so that the leaves of mature plants will shade the soil between the plants. Roots will stay cooler and the sun won’t bake the soil.
When buying transplants, choose plants that aren’t root bound. Confined roots can’t spread out fast enough to absorb enough moisture in summer’s heat. Gently loosen the rootballs before planting so roots will quickly reach out into surrounding soil to establish them.
Here is a monthly planting guide for Southern California.
February is a good month to start planting in the ground, salad greens and lettuces, carrots, beets parsnips, radishes, spinach, purple beans. You can start in containers early tomatoes, cucumbers, and summer squash.
March is the time to plant in the ground, purple beans, lettuce, radishes, purple beans, beets, radishes, and spinach.
Plant in the ground, beans of all colors, lettuce, radishes, beets, spinach, set out plants of tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, basil, you can start planting all corn now.
Plant in the ground, all basil, eggplant, all melons and all squash (including cucumbers, set out plants of same and all tomatoes, eggplants and peppers) green and yellow beans.
It’s getting late – peppers, eggplants and basil are still OK to start, but it’s getting late, did I say it was getting late?
It’s getting late… you can still get a crop, but it will be cut shorter by any early cool weather; the last of the corn can go in early in the month.
Plant in the ground only out of necessity – extreme necessity.
If you can avoid it, Plant nothing in the ground.
Towards the end of the month, in a shaded location, the first of the winter veggies can be started, cabbage, broccoli, kale, chard, fava beans, leeks, shallots, onions.
Plant in the ground nothing, until late in the month. You can start sowing turnips, parsnips, radishes, beets and carrots – keep seeds moist! Peas, lentils and garbanzo beans can be sown…
Now you can begin to set out some of your cabbage, broccoli, kale, cauliflower, and chard. Potatoes can usually be found about now as well as sets or seed bulb of onions, garlic and shallots and they all should be planted from now until late November.
This will be the last month to plant peas, lentils, garbanzos, shallots, garlic and fava beans. Their growing season is too long to get the harvest you would want. Although the legumes can be planted if you are willing to take a lesser harvest.
This is a good time to start cleaning up your garden and getting it ready for next year.