We have been having a bit of an extended heatwave along with the drought, so things are different this September. Even the nurseries are affected.
Santa Barbara Area Fall Transplants Nursery Report:
- La Sumida – no veggies now, their vender went out of business (drought?), waiting to see what happens with possible new vendor
- ACE/Home Improvement – Same as La Sumida, only two veggies in stock currently while inventorying
- Terra Sol – tooooo hot, won’t get fall transplants for another 2 to 3 weeks
- Island Seed and Feed – They grow their own, but too hot, need cool nights. Not even planting this month. Will start early October.
So the answer is, plant your own from seed, but not quite yet! Gardeners planting from seed now are reporting good germination, but the seedlings are dying from the heat, shaded or not. Gardeners are clearing their summer plants that are finished, and instead of planting, are doing soil prep and mulching deeply to protect the new soil beds. And it’s still way too hot to plant green manure mixes.
Tomatoes are doing well, but even they aren’t flowering or keeping their fruit in these hot temps. Eggplants are sporting some great purple fruits! Some bush beans are thriving. My Rattlesnake pole beans are doing as they are supposed to, making beans in up to 100 degree weather. I’m saving a lot of their seeds, so if you would like a few, come to the Jan 31, 2016 Seed Swap!
It’s time to get heat and drought tolerant seeds and plants like from Florida, Texas and other southern states!
Labor Day Weekend fall planting may be doable in your location! That, in the past, has been a favored planting time, with the weather cooling as it gets on into September. For those of us in hotter SoCal areas, you may try planting another round of summer plants. But, it’s weird. Plants started late summer often just don’t thrive, nothing like as they do planted in Spring days getting longer and warmer! I think late plantings get confused. Even though it is hot, the days are getting shorter. Scrambles their circuits. The soil is somewhat spent from heavy summer use, and amendments added to hot dryish soil don’t seem as helpful. This is a time when gardeners who have somewhat shaded gardens might do better than usual and better than others in full sun!
With this hot weather planting beans and tomatoes will still be ok. That’s about it. If you could find lettuce transplants, some would do well. One that did really well for me in this summer’s heat was the Nevada – a Green Crisp/Batavian! It grew BIG, didn’t bolt, and was totally crispy! Check out this page at Johnny’s Seeds!
If you didn’t order this fall’s seeds last winter, or you want to try some new ones that nurseries don’t stock, rummage around online and see what you can order up that they still have in stock! If you do plant fall seeds, plant them a tad deeper than you would in spring. The soil is moister and cooler an extra inch or two down. You know you have to KEEP THEM MOIST, not swimming, but moist. Water daily for sure…even twice a day on the hottest days. Plant on the sunny side of taller plants, but devise some shade for the seedlings. Immediately put down slug & snail bait. Mulch well.
Plant Sweet Peas for spicy scented Christmas bloom! Plant gift plants or bowls or baskets for the holidays! Onions For the biggest, sweetest harvests, late summer and early fall are the prime times to sow seeds of short- or intermediate-day onions. Fall-sown short- and intermediate-day onions tend to yield more and are larger and sweeter than those seeded or transplanted in early spring.
Bagrada Bugs are happening now at Pilgrim Terrace. So wait until October cooler weather to plant any Brassicas. Brassicas are their favorite and it only takes minutes for them to kill a seedling. They can kill a 2′ tall plant in 2 to 3 days. Brassicas are broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbages, cauliflower, collards, turnip.If you don’t have Bagrada Bugs, also in later cooler days, plant sprinters – arugula, mustard, turnips, and crispy red radishes that are ready to pick in little more than a month. Pretty Asian greens, such as tatsoi or mizuna, grow so fast you will have baby plants to add to stir-fries and soups just three weeks after sowing. For a quick payback on your table, select the earliest maturing varieties available. Go ahead and plant spinach, lettuces and chard since they are not favored by the Bagrada Bugs.
Pest and Disease Prevention If you are so lucky as to get in some September planting days, drench young plants, seedlings getting their 3rd and 4th leaves, and ones you just transplanted, with Aspirin solution to get them off to a great start! One regular Aspirin, 1/4 C nonfat powdered milk, 1/2 teaspoon liquid dish soap (surfactant), per gallon of water. Aspirin, triggers a defense response and stimulates growth! Powdered milk is a natural germicide and boosts their immune system. Do this on planting day or the next day! Reapply every 10 days or so, and after significant rains.
Harvest reminders! In our hot foothills and further south, watch your melons, big squashes and pumpkins for their best harvest time – when their stem is brown and dry, or they ‘slip’ off the vine. Hold off irrigating melons about a week before they will ripen so their sugars will concentrate. Harvest okra while it is small and tender – bigger is NOT better! Let your winter squash harden. When you can’t push your fingernail in it, it’s ready.Keep letting your strawberry runners grow for Oct harvest.
Tend your precious soil. Clear away finished summer plants. Make compost. It will finish faster in the heat. Add compost, worm castings and manure to your soil. Get the best compost you can buy if you don’t make your own. Get the ones with worm castings, mycorrhizal fungi, etc. Get manure blends to get the best results, especially mixes that include cow (not steer) manure. Big winter plants like brocs, collards, cauliflower and chard, and small plants like leaf after leaf lettuces are heavy producers, need plenty of rich soil food!
The exceptions are peas and carrots. If a bed is a little tired, add some food for the peas, otherwise, they, legumes, gather their own! No manure for carrots, and give them regular watering, though not too much, to prevent them being hairy and splitting.
If you don’t have Bagrada Bugs, leave your mulches down, add more if it’s thin. Mulch your new planting beds deeply, and keep your remaining summer plants well watered out to their drip line where the tiny feeder roots gather water and nutrition. If you have Bagrada Bugs, remove any habitat like mulches.
Save Seeds! If plants are still going strong, let them. Let plants bolt, bloom and seed! I just gathered radish and more celery seeds. The carrots have made mega seed heads, Arugula has flowered and seeded. My basil is strong, big leaved and dark green, so I will soon let it flower and seed. If you have lettuces that have bolted, snip off the little seed heads when they are ready. See how to process tomato seeds below. Peppers are easy. Let cucumbers yellow on the vine and fully nourish the seeds before you collect and dry them. Let your biggest bean pods get fat as can be, dry on the vine, then pop them from their pods. As always, seeds are your second harvest.
Make notes on how your plants did, which varieties were the most successful. These seeds are adapted to you and your locality. Each year keep your best! Store your keepers in a cool dry place for next year’s plantings. Bag or put in a snazzy little jar, with label and ribbon to give as gifts to other gardeners, at any event that makes them happy! Any extra bag up to take to the January Seed Swap!
Of course, some seeds are edible! Cilantro is coriander. Fennel is good in rice dishes. Peanuts and sunflower seeds are a protein source. Roast or toast pumpkin seed snacks. Hard beans get added to soups and stews, cooked and et. Celery seed in pickling, potato salad and coleslaw. Corn for popcorn!
REST and RESTORE an AREA
- When it gets a lot cooler, plant some hefty favas or a vetch mix for green manures to boost soil Nitrogen. Plant them where you had summer’s heavy feeders like corn, eggplant, summer squash, tomatoes and/or where you will plant heavy feeders next summer. The vetch mix can include Austrian peas and bell/fava beans, plus oats that break up the soil (they have deep roots). Favas are big, produce one of the highest rates of compostable organic material per square foot! If you change your mind, you can eat them! 🙂
- Or, if you don’t have Bagrada Bugs, cover an area you won’t be winter planting with a good 6″ to a foot deep of mulch/straw and simply let the herds of soil organisms do their work over winter. That’s called sheet composting or composting in place – no turning or having to move it when it’s finished. If you are vermicomposting, have worms, add a few handfuls to speed up and enrich the process. Next spring you will have rich nutritious soil for no work at all!
Build some lovely new raised beds. Install gopher barriers! Do a little terracing. If you are gardening at home, put in a gray water system and put in a rainwater capture system plus bioswales for water to flow from your rain gutters to water your fruit trees and veggie garden! Slow, spread, sink your water!
The Green Bean Connection started as correspondence for the Santa Barbara CA USA Pilgrim Terrace Community Garden. We are very coastal, during late spring/summer in a fog belt/marine layer area most years, locally referred to as the May grays, June glooms and August fogusts. Keep that in mind compared to the microclimate niche where your veggie garden is. Bless you for being such a wonderful Earth Steward!
See the entire September GBC Newsletter! Mulching – When, With What, How Much; Bagrada Bugs and Brassicas, Blossom Sustainable Community Garden Pawtucket RI, Fermentation Festival, National Heirloom Exposition in Santa Rosa CA, Seed Swap in January!