Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

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

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I love my crookneck squash!

Fall Already?

I can't believe it's moving into fall and I'm thinking about overwintering crops and posies. Except for those two short spurts of near-100 degree heat, we never really had a hot summer. Which I found really pleasant to live in, but disappointing that the tomatoes didn't ripen up as soon as I always want -- of course, that would have been in April, which is never a possibility! Our Sungold cherry tomatoes have been abundant for a month, and now the Celebrities and other larger-size fruit are coloring up.

I'm still enjoying my crookneck-squash-every-other-day for weeks on end. My husband doesn't like squash -- "They're too squashy!" he complains, even when I prepare them as barely stir-fried. So they're definitely my own crop that I can relish to my heart's delight, not having to share at all. But, I must admit that I don't get to enjoy as much corn as I'd like, since that's what I can serve him while I enjoy my squash. We do, however, both enjoy all the cucumbers the garden provides.

Peppers always seem to become a fall-and-winter crop in my garden, despite they're being classified as a warm-season crop. We do get maybe a pepper a week during the summer from six plants, but this turns into a pepper a day from late fall through winter -- a delightful and much-appreciated sweet and colorful crunch to add to salads or munch by itself.

Last March through May, during our still-cool spring, I sowed kohlrabi and beets several times a couple of weeks apart because they weren't germinating. This resulted in very crowded beds when they all did finally come up, and a continuing bounty all summer long as they attained harvesting size. I prefer both to be between one and 1.5 inches wide when I pick them, as this ensures tender, sweet flesh, even during our hot spells. If you choose to let them grow larger, be sure to keep them well watered, or they'll grow slowly and become spicy and fibrous rather than sweet and tender.

To get the fall garden started, concentrate on these tasks:
*Sow seeds and transplant seedlings of cool weather-hardy crops for harvests from fall through early spring.
*Sow seeds and transplant seedlings for spring blooms and crops, especially edible peas and flowering sweet peas, to encourage strong root and foliar development that will survive most frosts, thrive, and bear sooner in the spring.
*Collect and incorporate soil amendments to break down over the winter, enriching the soil for next year's gardens.

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