Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
July, 2001
Regional Report

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Purple-leaf basil, prime for pinching, is beautiful in the garden and delicious in salads. Sow more seed now to keep a steady harvest coming.

Summer Veggie Planting

Even though it's mid-summer, it's time to get a jump on your cool-weather garden. Sow carrots, celery, and cole crops broccoli such as Brussels sprouts, cabbage (especially red and savoy types, which resist frost better), cauliflower, and kohlrabi. Keep the soil moist and shaded until the seedlings have germinated, then gradually allow them to receive more sun over a week's time.

Better Germination

The summer heat can make germination of cool season crops difficult. I get better germination by employing several techniques. I sow seeds thickly in flats or beds. Then I mulch the seeds thinly with sifted compost instead of heavy soil. Soil tends to crust over, making it hard for smaller seeds such as carrots to germinate. I frequently sprinkle the flat or bed with water to keep it moist or leave a mister on for several hours each day.

Provide Shade

To prevent the hot sun from burning up the seeds, I shield the any planting bed with a piece of burlap or plywood to keep the soil cooler than the air temperature. I remove the shade board or burlap after 1/4 of the seeds have germinated and continue keeping the bed moist until most of the seedlings are up. If flats are used, place them in an area with part sun and pay close attention to keeping them moist. Transplant the seedlings when the second set of true leaves develop. These are the ones that look like miniature versions of the mature plant.

Carrot Germination

I use another technique when sowing slow to germinate crops such as carrots and parsley. I sow seeds on the north side of a furrow. I cover seeds lightly with potting soil or fine compost and shade with cheesecloth, window screening, or slats of wood. The north side of the furrow faces away from the direct sun. The shading will lessen the sun's heat and baking effect, resulting in better germination. Sprinkle the bed 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, rolling it over the bed for shade, and then rolling it back up for storage when the seedlings are up.

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