In the Garden:
Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
Automatic sprinkling helps germinate seeds, especially in hot weather.
Planning the Cool-Season Veggie Garden
August's garden bounty can be too much, just enough, or too little; but it's always a starting point in determining what to plant (or what not to plant) next time around. Now you know from experience that the whole packet of zucchini seeds -- or even all six plants from the pony pack -- produces just too many squash. (The refrigerator and freezer are filled with casseroles and breads, and your neighbors hide when you approach with your basketful of 4-inch-thick zukes.) Next time, you'll make do with just one or two plants, even though they're so cute when they're tiny.
You'll have a winter gold mine in your garden if you start seeds for overwintering crops this month and next. Yes, it's too hot to think about doing anything now but harvest and water and escape the heat, but think ahead to winter vegetable prices ... and start sowing!
When you plan the layout of your fall and winter gardens, consider which new crops should follow those just removed. For example, follow heavy feeders with light feeders, and vice versa. Heavy feeders include beets, broccoli, cabbage, celery, collards, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, endive, escarole, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, okra, parsley, pumpkins, radishes, rhubarb, spinach, squash, and tomatoes. Light feeders include carrots, chard, garlic, leeks, mustard, onions, parsnips, peppers, potatoes, rutabaga, shallots, sweet potatoes, and turnips.
Veggies to sow include beets, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbages, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chard, endive, escarole, garlic, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, thick-leafed and heading lettuces, onions, parsley, peas, white potatoes, radishes, shallots, and spinach. Savoy-leafed types of cabbage and spinach will resist frosts better than the more tender flat-leaf varieties. Last sowings of summer-maturing crops can also be made now -- bush beans, cucumbers, oakleaf lettuce, white seed potatoes, New Zealand spinach, and squash.
Keep seed beds or flats moist and shaded during the hottest portion of the day until the seeds germinate. A light mulch helps keep the soil surface from crusting, especially over tiny seeds that take a while to germinate, like carrots and parsley. Boards laid over the seed bed also help to keep it from drying out. Prop them up or remove them when more than half of the seeds germinate.
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