Of all the posts I’ve written, the most viewed is last month’s “What to Grow in Los Angeles/So Cal in April.” Apparently, a lot of new gardeners have the same problem I had when learning to garden here: we have a unique planting schedule. You may have already realized that just because something is sold at a big box store does not mean it is the right time to plant it.Fruit trees: In April, you should have thinned fruit lightly to allow remaining fruit to grow larger. Thin fruits by pulling one or two from each of the large clusters of fruit. In May, you should do this again – 6 weeks from the first time.
Vegetables: Now is the time to finish any Spring planting that has not been done yet! It’s also good to stagger plantings for continuous veggies. Summer veggie transplants can be put in now: chayote, cucumbers, eggplant, okra, peppers, tomatoes and melons. From seed, you can plant: amaranth, beets, carrots, corn, green beans, leaf lettuce (not head lettuce), lima beans, pumpkins, New Zealand spinach, radishes, summer and winter squash, Swiss chard and turnips. Beans and squash, once fruiting, should be picked daily so that they keep producing. It is also time to plant your sweet potato slips. I get mine from Debbie at Mericlone labs in NorCal. Their website has been down but you can e-mail her at: email@example.com. They have wonderful white, orange and purple varieties. As an aside, in California, we cannot receive shipments of sweet potatoes from other states. But that is okay because here, we only need to plant “slips.” That is a cutting from the sweet potato vine. Debbie, or whomever you order from, mails the vine wrapped in a little wet tissue in a ziplock bag. When you get it, just stick it in the ground and keep it watered until it roots. It is really easy!
Herbs: Parsley is biennial, so it is time to replant! You can also transplant basil, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, summer savory and thyme. You can seed-plant basil and parsley. Cilantro and arugula can be grown in semi-shade. These are great to plant behind larger plants, like tomatoes. Some herbs should be grown in containers because they are invasive. These include all kinds of mint, horseradish and French tarragon.
Flowers: Its time to plant Tuberoses bulbs (Lei flowers – they smell great!). Also, plant cosmos, globe amaranth, marigolds, nicotiana, petunias, verbena and zinnias in full sun. In partial shade plant begonias, impatiens, lobelia and scarlet sage.
Tropicals: April and May are good times to get your tropical plants in, including citrus.
One of the most important things in Southern California from now until the end of summer is to water regularly. I try to plant landscaping plants that need little water once established. But vegetables need regular watering!
If you are a new gardener, please tell me how it is going!