Peach on left is fully set with fruit. Branch on right has been thinned so individual fruits can develop fully without rubbing on each other.
This week’s surprise drizzles and cloudiness are perfect for continuing to sow seeds and transplant seedlings of summer veggies and flowers. The mildness of the cloud cover and rain make tender baby plants’ growing easy to get established and develop their root systems out into the garden’s native soil for nutrition and moisture. This month is ideal for these encouraging conditions, so take advantage of getting your plants in the soil or containers before the summer heat is upon us and the plants start getting stressed.
Last Chance for Cool-Season Veggies
My last sowing of lettuces and bok choy and peas are in the ground just in case this mild weather extends far enough into May and June to allow enough harvesting to make it worthwhile making the effort.
I also started a batch of asparagus seed, and the baby plants are now about 2 inches tall. In another couple of weeks, I’ll transplant them into their well-amended bed to develop over the summer and fall and then put up new shoots next spring. But I probably won’t harvest any until the following spring, since I want them to get really strongly established before robbing them of any energy by harvesting even a couple of shoots.
Third Planting of Tomatoes
Early in February, I found 3 volunteer tomato plants coming up amongst my beets. Since they had germinated on their own – probably from the compost that I’d incorporated in January before sowing the beets – I knew the soil was warm enough for me to start buying some of the tomato varieties that I grow every year and are generally already available at nurseries.
Later that month on my first forays to nurseries for tomato plants, I brought home 2 Sungold cherry plants and 3 Celebrities, which I set on top of the soil to acclimate to the area for a week, and then planted on March 3. The Sungolds are now about 3 feet tall, so I’m letting them set their blossoms.
Three weeks later, on March 20, I planted the 14 plants I’d purchased at my local Fig Nursery from its Tomatomania sale. Those plants are now about 20 inches tall. I’ll wait until they grow another foot before I let them set their blossoms, to make sure their root systems are extensive and deep.
This last weekend I purchased another 6 plants from the Tomatomania sale at Descanso Gardens, and planted them.
With these multiple plantings over 2 months’ time of varieties with varying maturity ranges, I’ve guaranteed continuous harvests through the summer and into the fall.
Here’s who I’m growing this year: Atomic Fusion, Black Cherry, Black Krim, Black Russian, Black Zebra, Brad’s Atomic Grape, Brandy Boy, Carbon, Celebrity, Cherokee Carbon, Cherokee Chocolate, Cherokee Purple, Green Zebra, Indigo Gold Berries, Isis Candy, Jaune Flamme, Kellogg’s Breakfast, Paul Robeson, Pineapple, Stupice, Sungold, and then whoever those volunteers become….
Plant Everything by Mid-May
In the past – before our several years of drought and those couple of torrid days of 116 degrees each year – I used to plant yet another batch of tomatoes and squash and beans and cukes in late May or early June, to carry our harvests through the heat of summer.
But, with the advent of those droughty years, I found that I couldn’t even keep those plants alive – much less thrive -- even with extra effort and expense of more frequent watering.
So, now, I make a point to get everything planted in April or early May to enable root systems to develop deeply into the soil so they’ll be strong enough to withstand summer’s heat.
All more the case this year, since we’ve had not even 6 inches of rain so far, with nary a promise for more!
For more gardening tasks and opportunities, go to April.