Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
May, 2012
Regional Report

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Glorious Pacific Coast iris in full bloom.

Spring into Summer

I feel like I've been "crying wolf" each time I think that a shower is the last one of the spring -- and then along comes another one a couple of weeks later. Every year's weather is different, and perhaps I just don't remember the previous ones very well, but I thought I remembered a "usual" week of 100 degree weather early in May that signaled the start to our summer weather. This year's spring, with its almost-90 degree weather alternating with high-60 degree temperatures, feels very unusual to me.

But I guess all this variability may be good for the garden, getting plants growing during the warm spurts and then letting them slow down and develop nicely during the cool stretches. It's great for cool-season lovers like lettuce, peas, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, beets, carrots. But it's also great also for the warm season plants like tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, peppers. Everyone's happy!

The little tomatoes I transplanted from 4" pots in mid-March now have lush foliage 2 feet high -- up to the second rung of their cages -- so now I'll let them keep their blossoms. At least I was going to last weekend when the weather was in the upper 80s. Now that it's back down to the low 70s, maybe not. Such is spring with its shifting temperatures! I'll let one blossom cluster stay on each plant, in the hopes that the weather will stay consistently warm and sweeten up those fruits! But I'll keep removing the other blossom clusters until the weather turns reliably warm. This way, I'll also spread out my harvest so I don't have all my tomatoes coming at the same time. At least that's the plan; we'll see how closely the weather cooperates!

Aren't the flower blooms glorious! The purple Pacific Coast Iris I'd planted two years ago bloomed so nicely this year that I purchased more colors from the Theodore Payne Foundation. My amaryllises, grown from several years of gifts that I planted into the garden last year, are showing off their blooms atop 2-foot stems. Bearded and Dutch Iris are continung to flower, and Louisiana iris and alstroemeria are just starting. Bulbs and tubers are definitely the way to assure annual spring glory!

But what's that silly chrysanthemum think it's doing, blooming for the last month instead of in November? Guess it agrees that the weather is weird...

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