Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
June, 2006
Regional Report

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Transplant some self-sown lettuce to leave enough space for full development.


July is a month of opposites in the garden. Summer's heat is upon us, and we're harvesting crops; but Fall's cool weather is around the corner, and now%s the time to begin planning the cool-weather garden. Besides, it's comforting to look forward to some coolness by starting the seeds of those cool-season crops now.
Veggies to sow include carrots, celery, lettuce and cole crops--broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage (especially red and savoy types, which resist frost better), cauliflower, and kohlrabi.
Posies to sow include alyssum, celosia (cockscomb), cosmos, forget-me-nots, gazania, marigolds, nasturtiums, portulaca (moss and sun rose), salvias, statice (sea lavender), verbena, and zinnias.
Get better germination during summer's heat by employing several techniques. Sow seeds thickly in flats or beds. Mulch the seeds thinly with sifted compost instead of heavy soil, which easily crusts over. Frequently sprinkle the flat or bed to keep it moist, or leave a mister on for several hours each day. Shield the bed with a piece of burlap or plywood--this will keep the seeds cooler than the air temperature, give them the moisture they need, and keep the soil surface from crusting. Remove the shade board or burlap after one-fourth of the seeds have germinated. Continue keeping the bed moist until most of the seedlings are up. If flats are used, place them in an area with less than full-day sun, and pay close atten%tion to keeping them moist. Transplant the seed%lings when the second set of true leaves devel%ops. These are the ones that look like miniature versions of the mature plant.
Carrots, parsley, and other slow-comers need even closer attention and perseverance since it%ll take about 3 weeks for them to come up%just about the time you%ve given up! Some of these tips can help. Sow seed on the north side of a furrow. The slope away from direct sun and the shading will lessen the heat and baking effect of the sun and result in better germination. Sprinkle with water, cover the seeds lightly with potting soil or fine compost, and shade with cheesecloth, windowscreening, or slats of wood. Sprinkle every second or third day to keep the soil surface moist. After most of the seeds are up, remove the screening. An easy way to handle the screening is to keep it in a roll--just roll it out over the bed for shade, and then roll it back up for storage when the seedlings are up.

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