Here are March and April compared so you can get an idea of your timing, and plan your succession plantings. If you are planting for canning, plant the amount you need all at once. The first week of March is considered by many to be the first time for Summer Planting! Per UC Cooperative Extension, ‘If the soil temperature has reached 60 to 65°F and the nighttime air temperatures are consistently above 50°F, it is time to plant tomato and pepper transplants. Wait until the soil has warmed to 70°F before planting squash and melons.’ Santa Barbara, Pilgrim Terrace Community Garden, coastal ground temps are still only 50+ degrees at 8 AM, and forecasts indicate nighttime temps are heading back into the 40s, so wait a bit for in-the-ground seed planting! Some transplants may not do well in this cooler soil either. Just because they are at a nursery doesn’t mean it’s the right time to buy them. Seriously. See Savio’s notes below in blue. Let’s wait until mid March at least, and see how things are then – that’s only two more weeks. That said….
MARCH– Tomatoes! Few gardeners can keep themselves from planting cold tolerating quick maturing tomatoes as early as March! Be warned though, as Dee at La Sumida says, likely, no matter when you plant you won’t get first red fruit until July 4th! Ripening depends on day length as well as temps, but if it’s hot, we may be lucky and get a few sooner! 🙂 Btw, La Sumida has the largest tomato selection in the Santa Barbara area! Ask for Judi to help you with your veggie questions. Heirlooms are particularly susceptible to the wilts, Fusarium and Verticillium. Instead, get varieties that have VFN or VF on the tag at the nursery. The V is for Verticillium, the F Fusarium wilt, N nematodes. Ace, Early Girl, Champion, Celebrity, are some that are wilt resistant/tolerant.
Outdoors, sow or transplant beets, carrots, celery, chard, herbs, Jerusalem artichokes, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuces, green onions, bulb onion seed and sets (be sure to get summer- maturing varieties), parsley, peas, peanuts, potatoes, radishes, shallots, spinaches, strawberries, and turnips. Transplant broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, and kohlrabi seedlings. Winter squash NOW, so it will have a long enough season to harden for harvest. Sprinkle Mycorrhiza fungi right on the roots of your transplants when you put them in the ground. It increases uptake of nutrients, water, and phosphorus that helps roots and flowers grow and develop. Ask for it at Island Seed & Feed in Goleta.
Depending on ground temps, tuck in some bean seeds where the peas are finishing, intermingled with cucumber seeds that will grow below the beans, plus a few dill to go with the cukes! Plant radishes with the cukes to deter the Cucumber beetles. Squash! Plant some corn in blocks, not rows, for good pollination! If you lay in some cukes, melons or winter squash, to ramble among the corn, soon as they are tall enough, put down a good thick straw mulch to keep their leaves and fruit off the ground.
This is the LAST MONTH to transplant artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale; also strawberry, blackberry, and raspberry roots so they’ll bear fruit well this year.
Indoors, sow eggplant, peppers, and more tomatoes for transplanting into the garden in late April or early May. Also Cucumbers, eggplants, melons, squash and sweet potatoes. Time for heat-resistant, bolt-resistant lettuces of all kinds!
Tend your compost, plan your garden, do further SOIL preparation for plant happiness.
APRIL– Now we’re talking true heat lovers time! Eggplant, limas, melons (wait until May for cantaloupe), okra and peppers, pumpkins! Many wait until April to plant tomatoes. Sow or transplant asparagus, beets, carrots, celery, chard, corn, herbs, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, heat-tolerant leaf lettuce, okra, summer-maturing onions, parsley, peanuts, the last peas (choose a heat-tolerant variety such as Wando), white potatoes, radishes, rhubarb, and spinach. April 1 IS JICAMA PLANTING DAY! If you miss it, plant ASAP! All about Jicamas!
Transplant early-maturing varieties of beans, cucumbers, eggplants, melons, peppers, squash, and tomatoes that will tolerate cooler soil temperatures. Wait on cantaloupe, ‘cz they will do better started in May.
Grow herbs for beauty and table taste!! Sow or transplant basil, borage, chervil, chives, cilantro, comfrey, dill, fennel, lavender, marjoram, mint, oregano, rosemary, sage, savory, tarragon, and thyme. Be mindful where you plant them… Mediterranean herbs from southern France, like lavender, marjoram, rosemary, sage, savory, and thyme, do well in hot summer sun and poor but well-drained soil with minimal fertilizer. On the other hand, basil, chives, coriander (cilantro), and parsley thrive in richer soil with more frequent watering. Wise planting puts chives where you need to repel Bagrada Bugs, by your broccoli, kale, but away from peas if you are still growing some. Cilantro, a carrot family workhorse, discourages harmful insects such as aphids, potato beetles and spider mites, attracts beneficial insects when in bloom. Dill is a natural right next to the cucumbers since you will use the dill if you make pickles. They mature about the same time.
Good Homes for Good Bugs! Lure their natural enemies ― hoverflies, lacewings, ladybugs, and parasitic wasps ― by planting chamomile, cosmos, marigold and yarrow.
Here are some WISE WORDS from Yvonne Savio, Program Manager and Master Gardener Coordinator for Los Angeles County’s University of California Cooperative Extension: ‘Wait until the end of the month to sow or transplant vegetables and fruits that prefer very warm weather to mature–including beans, corn, cucumbers, eggplants, melons, peppers, pumpkins, and squash. They will do better when they have consistently warm soil and air temperatures. Planting them into the soil when air temperatures are still cool results in growth stress which is difficult for the plants to overcome. Peppers, especially, will just “sulk” if their roots are chilled, and they won’t recuperate quickly [if ever] – best to just wait till the soil has warmed before planting them.’ I couldn’t agree more. I have done exactly what she warns against and can say the results aren’t happy. Sigh.