Guide to Fall Fruits and Vegetables in Southern California

Guide to Fall Fruits and Vegetables in Southern California
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Somehow, in this worrying year that lasts a lifetime and is still accelerating far too fast, we have stumbled headlong. And those gardens that so many of us planted with desperate hope in the spring? Well it’s the end of the season so they’re probably looking pretty sad right now, especially in Southern California where they could have been crisp in our late-season heat wave. ‘been or suffocated under a layer of smoky ash.

But new gardeners, rest assured: In Southern California, fall is a great time for garden renovations, when the weather is milder, there are fewer insects and less watering, if necessary.

As residents of cooler climates prepare to hang up their hoes, SoCal gardeners are entering the optimal time to grow cool-season crops and prepare for a fruitful bounty of berries next spring. This is the best time to grow root crops like beets, potatoes and radishes, lush rows of tangy greens, pea towers and all those spicy, healthy brassicas like arugula, broccoli. , cauliflower and cauliflower.

“I can’t wait for the fall garden; it’s actually my favorite, ”said Jo Anne Trigo, co-owner (with her husband, Alejandro) of Two Dog Organic Nursery in Mid-City, named Los Angeles Best Nursery of 2020 by Los Angeles Magazine.

“Somehow the fall garden looks cleaner and calmer, if such words can describe a garden,” Trigo said, “and it’s lower to the ground as well. You don’t have your massive corn and tomatoes so it seems easier. By the end of summer, I’m tired of my dingy tomatoes.

Easier and much less stressful, said master gardener Yvonne Savio, creator of the comprehensive program.

“Your plants are able to grow a lot more successfully because it’s a slower growing period,” Savio said. “It’s cooler, so your plants aren’t stressed out during the summer, and it’s nicer. You can harvest produce for months, months, and months and therefore get much more food from the plants you grow.

The bottom line is, if you felt like your first gardening adventure wasn’t a success, don’t give up now. Think about everything you’ve learned and embrace fall as a smoother, gentler way to grow the food we crave in winter – like the green vegetables that enrich our soups and stews or the root crops that we crave. love to roast on chilly nights – all while preparing for a spring harvest of delicious berries, like blueberries, strawberries and raspberries.

Even the preparation of the fall garden will not be as difficult as it was for beginners in the spring. Pull out your tired summer plants, unless they look super healthy and produce well, Savio said, and replenish your nutrient-depleted soil by mixing amendments like compost and aged manure. Wait a week or two before planting, as the new organic matter will begin to “cook” as the microorganisms begin to decompose, heating the soil to temperatures that could burn tender seedlings or seeds.

Many cool-weather crops do best if planted as seeds directly in the garden, including peas (set up some sort of trellis for support), lettuce, beets, radishes, carrots, and other root vegetables. as well as herbs such as cilantro and parsley.

Other cooler weather crops are easier to grow as transplants, such as arugula, broccoli, broccolini, kohlrabi, bok choy, spinach, leeks, and celery. Kale and chard can be grown from seed or transplants, Savio said, and she recommends doing both to stagger your harvests.

Don’t forget the flowers, like ornamental cabbage and kale, edible calendula and violas, and especially sweet peas, which are not edible but so colorful and fragrant, you’ll wish you could eat them when they start to bloom in the spring.

If you plant berries you will not start harvesting until the spring, and the first year the crops will be poor, but consider that an investment in years of increasingly bountiful crops. Planting in the fall helps the berry plants establish during the cooler months, Savio said, and take advantage of our rainy season (which usually begins around January).

Most berries can go in the ground or in containers, but if you fancy blueberries, plant them in large containers, Trigo said, at least 24 inches deep and 24 inches in diameter, in order to be able to grow them in the acidic soil they prefer. (Most soils in Southern California tend to be more alkaline.) Use organic potting mixes designed for acid-loving plants like azaleas and every two months give the soil a 4 scoop “acid bath” of distilled white vinegar mixed with two gallons of water to replenish the acidity washed away by our highly alkaline water.

And come winter take a lot photos of your lush green garden to drive your snowy East Coast peeps crazy on Instagram.

It’s almost worth the price of seeds and amendments right here.

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