Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

April, 2005
Regional Report

Sow and Transplant Spring and Summer Veggies

Sow or transplant the last of the cool-weather-loving veggies, such as beets, carrots, celery, chard, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuces (bolt-resistant varieties), okra, onions, parsley, peas (choose a heat-tolerant variety such as Wando), white potatoes, radishes, and spinach. Also sow or transplant vegetables that prefer very warm weather to mature, including beans, corn, cucumbers, eggplants, melons, peanuts, peppers, pumpkins, and squash.

Add Some Herbs

Herbs to sow or transplant include anise, basil, borage, burnet, catnip, chervil, chives, cilantro (the seeds are called coriander), comfrey, dill, fennel, lavender, marjoram, mint, oregano, rosemary, sage, savory, tarragon, and thyme. Many perennial herbs make attractive, drought-tolerant, trouble-free landscaping plants. Herbs that also produce well indoors are dwarf green or dark opal basil, chervil, chives, dill, marjoram, oregano, parsley, savory, and thyme.

Plant Heat-Loving Trees

The weather from now through June is ideal for planting citrus, avocados, and other tender trees, such as kiwis, kumquats, and pomegranates. In frost-free areas, also try cherimoya, guava, mango, and passion fruit. For containers, be sure to choose dwarf types. For the best choice in citrus, look for trees with many strong branches, a smooth graft union, and deep green leaves.

Thin Fruits

Continue thinning excess fruit set for better-developed remaining fruit and less strain on the tree or vine. This is especially important for those trees bearing fruit for the first or second time. Allow a spacing of 5 inches between peaches on opposite sides of the branch, and 3 inches between plums and apricots. Thin peaches before the fruit reaches almond-size. Be ruthless in your thinning: the fruits are small now but will take lots of energy to mature, and you don't want to stress the tree to produce excess fruit you won't eat.

Build a Simple Compost Pile

If you are considering constructing a compost pile but are leery of a potentially disagreeable smell and hovering insects, be aware that these result from the pile not being aerated enough. To properly construct a \"breathing\" compost pile, collect some moist greenery, such as grass clippings, green foliage, and kitchen scraps with no grease or fat; some dried leaves or woody material in small pieces; and some soil, manure, or compost. Begin the pile on top of some rougher, dry brush or small twigs. Then mix the ingredients well or thinly layer them until the pile is about 3 feet tall and wide. Add any finely-chopped, moist greenery, such as grass clippings, in thin layers, or stir them into the top layer of other ingredients. Otherwise, these layers will compact, decompose, and smell rotten in the summer heat. Water the pile until it\'s moist but not soggy. Mix the pile every several weeks to let in more air if it seems to be compacting without breaking down the ingredients.


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