Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
August, 2004
Regional Report

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Start seeds in nursery beds or between maturing plants, but be sure to keep soil moist for good germination.

First Seeding for Fall and Winter

Can you believe that just as we're getting used to some real warmth in our gardens and enjoying summer treats like tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, and posies galore, it's time to start thinking of sowing for fall and winter?

I'm always amazed when the calendar tells me to start seeds of cool-season veggies like lettuce and broccoli and peas, and flowers like snapdragons and calendulas and poppies. But well into August's blistering heat, I welcome the thought of cool, moist (even foggy!), cloudy days. So I take the edge off of August by dreaming of November and starting some seeds!

More Veggies
Sow beets, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbages, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chard, endive, escarole, garlic, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, thick-leafed and heading lettuces, onions, parsley, peas, white potatoes, radishes, shallots, and spinach. Savoy-leafed types of cabbage and spinach will resist frosts better than the more tender flat-leaf varieties. Last sowings of summer-maturing crops can also be made now -- bush beans, cucumbers, oakleaf lettuce, white seed potatoes, New Zealand spinach, and squash.

More Flowers
Sow or transplant alyssum, amaranthus, balsam, fibrous begonias, calendulas, candytuft, celosia, columbines, coralbells, coreopsis, cosmos, marguerite and Shasta daisies, dahlias, delphiniums, dianthus, forget-me-nots, foxgloves, gaillardias, gerberas, geums, baby's breath, hollyhocks, impatiens, larkspur, linarias, lobelia, marigolds, nasturtiums, nemesias, pansies, petunias, phlox, Oriental and Iceland poppies, portulaca, fairy primroses, rudbeckia, scabiosa, schizanthus, snapdragons, statice, stock, sweet peas, vinca, violas, and zinnias.

Seedlings sown now will be ready for transplanting by early October and November. Calendulas will provide color all through winter if you plant them every three weeks from now through mid-December.

If you're not going to have a winter garden, or will be relandscaping in the spring, cover crops are an excellent alternative, even for home gardeners with small plots. Good choices include alfalfa, soybeans, fava beans, winter rye, and winter wheat. Dig or till them in next spring two or three weeks before planting to give them time to decompose and not "burn" seeds or delicate seedling roots.

Keep seed beds or flats moist and shaded during the hottest portion of the day until the seeds germinate. A light mulch helps keep the soil surface from crusting, especially over tiny seeds that take a while to germinate, like carrots and parsley. Boards laid over the seed bed also help to keep it from drying out. Prop them up or remove them when more than half of the seeds germinate.

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