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By Marianne Taylor

Although we’re at the end of spring, it’s not too late to plant your vegetable and flower garden. Ideally, March and April are the best time to start a summer garden, but not to worry; you can still be a success having homegrown produce and blooms, if you start now.

To save time, purchase 4” plants or a six-pack, as these plants have established roots. As the month heats up, these plants will fare better.

If you decide to start from seeds, be sure to watch the temperatures and keep seeds moist. Watering new seedlings daily is a must, as the rainy season will have passed.

You can plant most warm-season annuals such as flowers and vegetables, which require both warm soil and high temperatures (with a little cooling at night) to grow steadily and produce crops in the summer if planted in March, April or May.

They include traditional summer crops such as snap beans, corn, cucumbers, melons, peppers, pumpkin, tomatoes, and squash.

Cool-season veggies require cooler temperatures, short days and can survive light frost. There are more varieties of cool-season veggies. They include arugula (rocket), beets, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, collards, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chard, fennel, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, mizuna, mustard greens, onions, peas, potatoes, radishes, spinach, and cilantro.

If you live within three miles of the beach, you can grow cool-season veggies all year long.

If your vegetable and flower gardens are already in full swing, here is a list of things to do in May before the blistering heat kicks in:

  • Keep up with watering, even newly planted California natives need some irrigation as do cacti once a month. Deadhead fading flower blossoms; you’ll increase more blooms.
  • Apply a layer of mulch on flower beds, around trees and shrubs about 2-3 inches around the base of a plant. This reduces weeds, conserves moisture and prevents disease.
  • Don’t forget to fertilize roses, citrus trees, avocado trees, vegetables and flowers.
  • Now is also a good time to check on your tools. Do they need sharpening? What’s the condition of your hoses? Do they need replacement? And irrigation, is there overspray on the street or sidewalks?
  • Add some accessories, such as an Adirondack chair, wind chime, birdhouse or solar lighting along a walkway.

It’s fun to explore the possibilities that your garden can provide—a room with a view to relax and enjoy the abundance of nature. 

Marianne Taylor, of San Juan Capistrano, is the founder and executive director of Goin’ Native Therapeutic Garden, teaching gardening and life skills as a way of empowering, engaging and connecting people.

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