Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
Plant Heat Lovers
In warm, inland valleys seed and transplant heat-loving crops such as beans, corn, cucumbers, eggplants, melons, peppers, squash, and tomatoes. Plant transplants and seeds to ensure a continued harvest. When the transplants are finished, the seeded plants will just begin producing.
Poor seed germination may result from a variety of conditions including old, poorly stored seeds or planting too deep. However, crusty soil is one of my main culprits. The seeds just can\'t break through the hard- packed earth. To lessen the problem, I cover the seeds with a thin layer of compost, potting soil, grass clippings, or other light-textured substances instead of heavier soil.
Control Tomato Hornworms
If hornworms have plagued your tomatoes in the past, consider planting cherry tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes\' thicker skins and higher alkaloid content seem to repel the worm. Adult hornworms are the larval form of a large mottled gray or brown moth. As you work your soil prior to planting, destroy any hornworm pupae. Look for hard, brown, 2-inch-long spindle-shaped cases buried 3 to 4 inches underground.
For bushier plants that produce more blooms, pinch the new growth of begonia, chrysanthemum, marguerite daisy, dianthus, fuchsia, geranium, iceplant, lavender, pepperomia, pilea, and sedum. Root the cuttings to produce new plants.
Plant a Container Garden
Container gardens can use just about any container, such as an old wheelbarrow, bathtub, bird cage, shoe, child\'s wagon, or even just a camouflaged bag of potting mix. If it\'ll hold soil and a plant, it\'s fair game. For mounds or cascades of color, grow begonias, petunias, ivies, geraniums, campanulas, impatiens, succulents, fuchsias, azaleas, or even vegetables such as patio tomatoes, strawberries, or herbs.