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

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Trimming iris now opens up space to plant more bloomers for summer enjoyment!

Transition From Spring Into Summer

I've just spent several days cleaning up perennial flower beds -- cutting back bloomed-out irises to 6-inch fans, pulling extra irises and spring-blooming bulbs from crowded clumps for sharing with friends, and planting newly-purchased daylilies and irises. Under my oak tree, I've planted heuchera in four foliage colors in between Pacific Coast iris from the Theodore Payne Foundation and South Coast Botanic Garden, our two prime local sources for California natives. Gently loosening their rootballs to help them transition to their new homes and watering them all in well will be their last coddling for a month, when I'll deep-water them again.

Almost-Last Plantings
Best to get everything planted this month that you'll want growing through the summer, so plants can get settled in before our really hot weather hits in July and August. Here are some reminders for success:

Gently loosen the rootballs of transplants before planting them so roots can quickly reach out into surrounding soil to establish themselves.

For the most efficient use of garden space, choose vegetables that produce the most food for the amount of garden space they use and the time they require from you. Carrots, cucumbers, onions, potatoes, summer squash, and tomatoes will give you biggest return for your space and time.

Transplant seedlings close enough so that the leaves of mature plants will shade the soil between the plants. This will keep plant roots cooler, as the sun doesn't bake the soil. There's less evaporation, so you'll have to water less.

When replanting areas where you've just grown vegetables, follow heavy-feeding leafy vegetables like spinach and cabbage with nitrogen-replenishing legumes such as beans, and soybeans, or plant a less-demanding root crop.

Yields of cucumbers, squashes, and tomatoes can be even greater when they are grown on trellises, saving soil space for growing more crops.

Feed eggplants, peppers, squashes, and tomatoes when they blossom for greater yields.

Don't fertilize the soil again before succession plantings of beans or carrots, since excess nitrogen results in forked and hairy carrots and lush bean plants with few beans.

Add manure as mulch directly onto globe artichokes, asparagus, cabbages and other cole crops, corn, cucumbers, melons, and squashes. But keep it away from beans, beets, carrots, lettuces, peas, sweet and white potatoes, and tomatoes or it will encourage too much foliage at the expense of the edible parts we want.

Add some compost as mulch after setting out all crops to help reduce evaporation, moderate soil temperatures, and to add nutrients to the soil as it gradually breaks down.

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