In the Garden:
Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
Transplant some self-sown lettuce to leave enough space for them to spread out.
A Month of Opposites
In July, 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.
Plants to Sow
Veggies to sow include carrots, celery, and lettuce. Also sow cole crops, such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage (especially red and savoy types, which resist frost better), cauliflower, and kohlrabi.
Posies to sow include alyssum, celosia, cosmos, forget-me-nots, gazania, marigolds, nasturtiums, portulaca, salvias, statice, 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, which keeps the seeds cooler than the air temperature, gives them the moisture they need, and keeps 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 attention to keeping them moist. Transplant the seedlings when the second set of true leaves develops. 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 will take about three 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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