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Greetings : Welcome to California

Updated on October 28, 2009

To All the New Gardeners From back East

Over the last few weeks I have had numerous new gardeners ask me what is alright to plant now. I work at a local nursery in San Diego County, so I do the ordering for the vegetables and herbs. Upon courteous questioning of these customers, I discovered that many were transplants from back east (or across the sea, England to be specific) and this was their first foray into Southern California gardening.

Example : "What can I plant right now?"

"Peas, lettuces, the cole crops, strawberries, root vegetables, parsley, cilantro, dill, fennel are all growing well this time of year."

"But I plant those in the spring!"

"Where are you from?"

"New York."

Yes New York. Or Buffalo; or Kansas. Well for me that explains it.

Welcome to California! Where our growing season is divided into cool and hot season crops. All the lovely lettuces that must be planted as quickly as possible (before the heat waves) back east are planted at our leisure once our weather cools in the autumn. The root crops that must be planted after the thaw are started at the end of summer, as our ground doesn't freeze to the core of the earth the way it does in snowy areas. Lettuces, peas, broccoli, cabbages, strawberries are all planted once our soils cool and our day temperatures drop to 70 degrees. Our bulb onion season starts in the fall and spring onions around here are scallions and chives. However these can be planted in the autumn as well. Garlic, leeks and shallots are also a autumn crop here.

Our growing season only stops when the over night temperatures drop below 50 degrees, and only if it is prolonged from few days to a couple of weeks. In comparison to folks who live east of the Rockies, or even some in our local foothills, coastal families don't have a true winter and so can grow just about year round.

Our spring crops consist of pumpkins, squash, melons, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, beans and BASILS. Lots of basils. The squashes and melons are started very early and the rest are started at month to six week intervals until August, then the cool season crops are started again.

I hope this helps all the new gardeners out there and I wish you happy planting.


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