We’re fortunate in Southern California in that we can grow our own vegetables all year long. While price or freshness may not always be a consideration at the market, you can rest assured that what you grow is fresh and tasty.
The National Garden Bureau has an interesting article online this month on “Eating Healthy: Easy When You Grow Your Own.” It's well worth reading.
Pay attention to the season
In our region, we do have to pay attention, when we grow our own, to the season. You can’t grow tomatoes in the winter, and, unless you live at the beach, you may have trouble growing lettuce and cabbage in the summer. It’s a matter of knowing which are cool-season crops and which are warm season.
And the same holds true for the flower garden — you can’t grow marigolds in the winter, and, unless you live at the beach, you can’t grow pansies in the summer.
Some vegetables have a wider latitude of growing conditions. You can plant beets, radishes, carrots, and a few others almost any time of the year and get good results.
But sweet corn, beans, peppers, tomatoes, and some others need the long, hot days of summer to do well.
Some of the summer vegetables that can be planted now from seed are bush beans, pole beans, carrot, sweet corn, cucumber, kohlrabi, leaf lettuce, mesclun, all melons, long-day onion, parsnip, turnip, radish, pumpkin, Swiss chard, spinach, and squash.
This month it’s best to plant started plants of tomato and pepper unless you can start them from seed under controlled heat and cover.
Plant these flower seeds
These flower seeds can be started now, in the open: alyssum, celosia, cosmos, gaillardia, gazania, lobelia, ageratum, marigold, morning glory, salvia, scabiosa, sunflower, statice, tithonia, and zinnia. Better results are probable if you can start them under controlled heat and cover.
Beach city gardeners can still plant pansy, stock, viola, and other cool-weather flowers.
If you don’t have one already, buy Sunset’s Western Garden Book. It’s worth the price because it treats all of our little microclimates and is loaded with good information for Southern California.
Where you live and garden in Southern California is important. The desert has its own climate as do areas close to the ocean, and inland and central coast areas have their own climates. You have to learn as you go along, what works and what doesn’t.
Maybe that’s what makes gardening so much fun.
Gerald Burke is a freelance horticultural writer. He spent 35 years in the seed business, 30 of them with Burpee, and is a member of the Garden Writers Association. To read more of his Diggin' It posts on southern California gardening, click here.