Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

August, 2008
Regional Report

Sow Overwintering Crops

Sow beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, 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.

Keep Sowing Quick Crops Until Thanksgiving

Sow carrots, lettuce, and spinach -- a dozen or so seeds at a time -- every two or three weeks from now through October. This will provide a succession of succulent harvests through the winter. Leafy green plants like lettuce and spinach that are 3 or 4 inches tall and wide -- or carrots that are at least 1/2 inch in diameter -- before the first hard frost will be mature enough to provide harvests through early spring. If they're smaller, they won't provide much to eat until spring, when they may bolt first.

Harvest in the Cool Mornings

Harvest fruits and vegetables as early in the day as possible, especially if they are not to be eaten that day or will be refrigerated. Research at the University of California, Davis, has found that the six hour-period before sunrise is the best time to harvest. As soon as the sun hits the fruits or vegetables, the pulp temperature begins to rise, and even shading them will not delay the temperature rise for long. For each 5 degrees lower the temperature is when the fruit is picked, shelf life is extended for another 3 days. Tomatoes, in particular, develop more chilling injury -- that telltale graininess and mushiness -- when they are cooled after being harvested when thoroughly warm.

Water Fruit Trees

Water all trees deeply. Pick up and destroy fallen fruit. Prune and destroy dead and diseased limbs, but leave major pruning until winter. When harvesting is over, remove bird netting. If you leave it in place, it will become enmeshed in new shoot growth. Rake the area beneath each tree bare, and apply a new mulch. These clean-up efforts will prevent diseases from spreading and harmful insects from hiding for the winter.

Start Fall and Winter Bloomers

Sow or transplant alyssum, amaranthus, baby's breath, balsam, fibrous begonias, calendulas, candytuft, celosia, columbines, coral bells, coreopsis, cosmos, gloriosa daisy (rudbeckia, coneflower, black-eyed Susan), marguerite and Shasta daisies, dahlias, delphiniums, dianthus (sweet william, pinks), forget-me-nots, foxgloves, gaillardias, gerberas, geums, hollyhocks, impatiens, larkspur, linarias, lobelia, marigold, nasturtiums, nemesias, pansies, petunias, phlox, Oriental and Iceland poppies, portulaca, primulas, scabiosa, schizanthus, snapdragons, statice, stock, sweet peas, vinca, violas, and zinnias. Seedlings sown now will be ready for transplanting by early October and November.

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