In the Garden:
Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
Fragrant sweet peas are the best! Plant yours now for spring blooms.
September's New Beginnings
September is my favorite month in the garden. With all the summer heat, I've stayed out of the garden in August, except for harvesting, and I'm anxious to get dirt under my fingernails again.
Getting Ready to Plant
September's mild temperatures make just about any gardening task pleasant. With cool mornings and evenings and warm (but not hot) soil and air temperatures, I'm ready to plunge in again. Plus, the promise of tasty, succulent lettuces over the winter energizes the inspiration.
The Final Harvest
My last tasks for summer are to pinch out any new blossoms and growing tips of melons, winter squash, and determinate (sets only a certain amount of fruit, then stops growing) tomatoes. This will force growth into the fruits that have already set. Any new fruits that set from now on won't ripen sufficiently before cool weather comes. Of course, you can always wrap immature green tomatoes in newspaper and set them on a windowsill, but I have never liked the taste when tomatoes are matured that way. I will let my indeterminate cherry tomatoes continue setting, however, as the little fruits ripen more quickly than the larger varieties; and if we avoid frost, they'll last into early spring.
What to Sow Now
My tastebuds have had it with summer vegetable flavors. I'm hankering for lettuce, peas, kohlrabi, and the rest of the cool-season crew. Seeds sown now will produce strong root and foliar development this winter, survive light frosts, and bear sooner in the spring. Here's my list of veggies to plant: beets, bok choy, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chard, chervil, chives, collards, endive, garlic, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, green onions, short-day bulb onions (such as 'Grano' and 'Granex'), parsley (the flat-leaf type is more winter-hardy than the curly), parsnips, peas, white potatoes, radishes, and spinach.
I'm generous in my sowing and transplanting, planting two or three times the amount I usually do in spring, because these overwintering crops will grow very slowly. I'll harvest only a couple of leaves a week from each lettuce plant, but 50 to 100 small plants will provide a nice-sized salad. I guess this is why I appreciate seasonal eating so much - I'm always moving from crop to crop, and always getting the best.
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