The next months…so you can plan ahead!
As more of your plants are finishing, make notes about your summer crops in your garden journal.
September Let some plants continue to grow for seed saving! First fall planting month!
Planting from seeds is fun; transplants produce sooner. Plant Sweet Peas for Christmas bloom! Plant gift plants or bowls or baskets for the holidays!
October Transplants of all fall crops, but specially of cabbages and artichokes. Cut Strawberry runners off to chill for Nov planting.
November Seeds of onions for slicing. Wildflowers from seed (don’t let the bed dry out). Strawberries in no later than Nov 5. Transplants of winter veggies.
December is winter’s June! Crops are starting to come in, it’s maintenance time!
Congratulations to all you first time gardeners! You have planted a summer garden, learned a lot, enjoyed the fruits! Welcome to an abundant coastal southern California winter garden! September can still be hot, but you will start feeling the difference, shortening days, the light on your plants changing, thinking of snuggling in with your seed catalogs and a cuppa. It will soon be time to enjoy crisp weather, water a bit less, wait a bit more as things slow down.
Labor Day weekend is a great time to plant! If you haven’t already, start your first fall peas at the base of your declining beans. If you don’t have enough room yet, establish a little nursery in an open area to plant celery, your Brassicas: cabbage, brocs, Brussels sprouts, collards cauliflower, kales – to later transplant into other garden areas, or spread apart, late September and October. Or start in containers for later transplanting. If you don’t have the time to tend them, simply get transplants at the nursery when you want them. However, the beauty of planting from seed is you can get the varieties you want, you can experiment with new varieties! A seed catalog is a lovely and dangerous thing.
Plant lettuces in shadier spots behind plants that will protect them during the September heat, but who will soon be done allowing your lettuces full sun when it is cooler later on. Remember, September can be HOT.
Time to be building gopher-protected fall raised beds or hardware cloth/aviary wire baskets! You can custom make these baskets yourself. Make deeper ones for single plants, ie your big gopher-tasty brocs. Or make a long basket to put along the foot of your pea trellis, deep enough for the carrots you plant with them, that enhance peas. Or make a shallow basket for your square yard of salad greens. See what I mean? These are fine portable baskets. When you are done using them in one area, they can easily be moved to the next spot, even reshaped to fit a new location. Inexpensive wire cutters are all you need. Talk with Hillary Blackerby, Plot 24 – see hers. She dug trenches, then stepped on the hardware cloth, shaping it exactly to the trench! Perfecto!
High in Antioxidants, Brassicas,
the Backbone of Your Winter Garden!
In our climate, Brassicas can be grown year round! But they thrive in cooler weather, are fairly frost hardy, and are said to have better flavor after a frost! They love a very rich manured soil and need it because cooler winter temps slow the uptake of nutrients. Be generous. Except for broccoli, Brassicas are grown for their leaves, and rich soil makes leaves, and broccoli leaves are edible too! If your soil is slightly acidic, sprinkle a bit of lime to increase the pH, and help prevent the fungal disease club root. Firm the soil, with your feet, around your Brassicas to support the plant in its upright growth, especially in a windy area. A lot of Brassicas are top-heavy, sometimes needing staking. Mulch and water well.
If you water too well, making a ‘softer’ plant, or have too much nitrogen (manures), white fly and aphids are more likely. Studies show hosing them away is as effective as chemical treatments! Do it early in the day so plants can dry off (prevent mildews), and be sure to get the underside of the leaves as well, and especially in curled leaves that protect aphids. Or spray with insecticidal soaps or oils. Even though aphids and white fly are yukky, keep watch right from the get go! They like tender baby plants. Don’t delay spraying, and keep watch every day until they are gone! Don’t let them spread to other parts of the plant or other healthy plants, your neighbor’s plants. They stunt the growth of your plant and open it to other diseases. If the infestation is too much, remove infected leaves ASAP, at worst, the whole plant. Don’t leave them laying about or put them in your compost. That truly ‘nips them in the bud!’
Now, here’s something I’ll bet you didn’t know about some of your Brassicas! From AllExperts, Organic Gardens:
Your ‘Kale Vegetables’ are Brassica Family crops that pose their own pro’s and con’s in your battles with bugs. Broccoli, Cauliflower, Brussels Sprouts, Turnips, Horseradish, Radishes and some other vegetables generate a natural chemical called GLUCOSINOLATES. If you till the spent plants in at the end of a season, then rotate to another NON-BRASSICA Crop, or even just a Cover Crop, they’ll decompose all Summer and release those Glucosinolates into the Soil. [BIOFUMIGATION]
The nicest thing about this is that Glucosinolates are NATURAL INSECTICIDES (plus they demonstrate anti-Cancer properties in the laboratory). They also act as Fungicides because they contain sulphur. Cornell University School of Agriculture tells us these weapons ‘sit benignly inside a cell until it’s punctured — usually by predator feeding. They then mix with certain enzymes from other cells, reacting to yield sharp-tasting, sometimes toxic compounds.’
My comment: Clearly, this is a problem if you are planting small seeds, especially lettuce, under your Brassicas. Dying parts of the Brassica family of plants produce a poison that prevents the seeds of some plants from growing. Plants with small seeds, such as lettuce, are especially affected by the Brassica poison. A professor at the University of Connecticut said Brassica plants should be removed from the soil after they have produced their crop. Ok, so if you decide to chop and drop your Brassicas, plant transplants of small seed plants in those areas rather than starting plants from seed.
Brassica Companions: Aromatic plants, sage, dill, chamomile, chard, beets, peppermint, rosemary, celery, onions, potatoes, spinach, dwarf zinnias. Brassicas are helped by geraniums, dill, alliums (onions, shallots, garlic, etc), rosemary, nasturtium, borage. Dill attracts a wasp to control cabbage moth. Zinnias attract lady bugs to protect plants. Avoid mustards, nightshades, strawberries. Notice there are contradictions – potatoes are in the nightshade family.