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

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Transplanting seedlings with roots pointing down - not circling around - results in minimal transplant shock.

Starting To Think of the Fall and Winter Garden

Because we never know what the weather will do -- continue with heat (as minimal as it's been) or start to cool down -- it's time to make last sowings of summer-maturing crops like bush beans, cucumbers, heat-tolerant lettuce, white seed potatoes, New Zealand spinach, and squash. Choose varieties that will mature by Thanksgiving so they'll be fully developed by then. But the cool weather may allow you to "store" them in the garden until you're ready to harvest.

To get an early start with cool-weather crops, especially the varieties that need long development time, sow seeds a dozen or so at a time every three weeks through October. This will assure many stages of maturation for successive harvests, and you'll always have some seedlings to plunk into gaps in garden space as you pull summer plants that are done producing.

Some to consider -- depending on what your family enjoys -- 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.

When you plan the layout of your fall and winter gardens, consider which new crops should follow those just removed. 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.

Some vegetables are more tolerant of salty soil areas in the garden. If an area has received repeated applications of manure or other concentrated fertilizers, the salt content may be high. Asparagus, beets, kale, and spinach do well under these conditions, but celery, green beans, radishes, strawberries and most fruits cannot tolerate it. Other vegetables and cantaloupes, figs, and grapes generally have medium tolerance.

Get better germination during summer's heat by employing several techniques. Sow seeds thickly in flats or beds. Mulch the seeds thinly with sifted compost instead of heavy soil, which easily crusts over. Frequently sprinkle the flat or bed to keep it moist, or leave a mister on for an hour each day. Shield the bed with a piece of burlap or plywood -- this will keep the seeds cooler than the air temperature, give them the moisture they need, and keep the soil surface from crusting. Remove the shade board or burlap after one-fourth of the seeds have germinated. Continue keeping the bed moist until most of the seedlings are up. If flats are used, place them in an area with less than full-day sun, and pay close attention to keeping them moist.

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