Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
March, 2011
Regional Report

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Lettuce as edible art!

Sow Lots of Veggie Seeds in Both Pots and In Soil

Our family is loving all the lettuce and broccoli -- and even a cauliflower or two -- that are producing in the garden from fall plantings. I do love this payoff and feel economically smug as we eat huge nightly salads that would cost a couple of dollars each if I had to purchase them -- which I wouldn't! Wonderful inexpensive nutrition! To say nothing of the delight of playing mudpatties in the garden! Gardening is great fun, and we benefit so much!

I just seeded a batch of six-packs with artichoke seeds since they are infrequently available at big-box stores or even local nurseries. I also seeded the artichokes around my garden, between fruit trees -- every 6 inches and surrounded by mulch, since I know some won't come up and I'll transplant the others. In the past, I've seeded them in 4 inch pots, but by the time they got large enough to transplant, the weather was already pretty hot and I had to pay close attention to watering as they established themselves. My plan this year is an attempt to avoid that hassle.

My basic approach is to sow seeds that are small and need close initial attention, such as lettuce and herbs, in trays or pots in a larger bin to allow the pots to reabsorb water. Larger seeds, like beets,chard, cukes, and squash, I direct seed into garden beds and add a light sprinkling of mulch to hold in the moisture the seeds need to germinate.

I also sowed more cauliflower seed -- beautifully spirally Romanesco, purple, and cheddar for the fun colors and shapes, and regular white -- both directly in the garden beds under mulch and in trays. These will be ready to harvest when the plants I planted last fall are eaten. I'm counting more on the in-ground sowing because of the late-transplant-water issue.

I don't need to sow more broccoli since the transplants from last fall will keep producing more bite-size "headlets" until they bolt late in summer -- and I'm thoroughly sick of broccoli!

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