Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
June, 2009
Regional Report

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Save some lettuce seed while replanting the rest of the bed with cucumbers, squash, peppers, and more heat-tolerant lettuce.

Spring Into Summer?

Everything in my garden is growing grandly, with daytime and evening temperatures comfortable for people as well as plants. Beets are deliciously sweet. Tomatoes are full of blossoms and expanding fruits. Reseeded lettuce plants are providing salads along side plants eaten from all winter and spring that are now maturing their seed heads. Pepper plants are still tiny but set with flowers. Cucumbers and yellow crookneck squash, which I seeded when I pulled out the bolting lettuce, are several inches high. I'll plant another batch of cukes, squash, and beets in another 3 weeks, when I pull the last of the sweet peas and cabbage. And, another batch another month after that -- for continuous harvests through fall.

Part of the magic is due to our still-continuing mild spring weather. With daytime temperatures in the low 80s, and evenings in the low 60s, plants are developing at a steady pace.

What keeps plants happy is the dual benefit of soaker hoses under 4 inches of composted horse-stable bedding. The once-every-three-weeks, hour-long seeping of water into the soil and organic matter makes sure the roots a foot down are moist. The mulch keeps evaporation and weed germination to a minimum, while maximizing microorganism activity to break down the bedding into nutrition for the soil and plant roots. And, during more dramatic temperature swings, it moderates soil temperature so the roots can thrive.

New to my garden this year is edamame (soybeans). About half of the seeds are up a week after planting in the bed that had had the broccoli and spinach all winter long. After pulling, I'd incorporated a bag of manure into the 10' x6' space and relaid the soaker hose so the strands were one foot apart. After seeding, I watered the seeds in, covered the bed with 2 inches of compost, and watered that in. This is my reseeding and replanting process between each crop throughout the garden.

Growing in containers, awaiting planting in another month for late-summer harvest, are tomatoes I started from seed in late February -- Big Beef, Black Brandywine, Black Krim, Cherokee Purple, Crimson Carmelo, Green Zebra, Marvel Stripe, Pomodoro Cuor di Bue (a friend brought me seeds from Italy), and Sugar Sweetie.

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