64318f4ede829c51edcd35817e1560c9

I stopped to get my morning coffee at a little place not far from my home.

rvanderhoff

Sharing the same parking lot was one of the big home improvement stores. You know the one, a cavernous place with lots of pallet racks and forklifts. So with my coffee in hand I took a walk.

Just inside the entrance to the garden department was a display of vegetables. As I’m sure you know, vegetable gardening is the fastest growing segment of gardening. It seems everyone nowadays, from Michelle Obama to the guy next door, has at least a few vegetables tucked somewhere in the garden.

Ah, the vegetable display. There’s something soothing about peeking through the little vegetable starts early in the morning. Let’s see what I should be planting this weekend. My choices today were seven different varieties of peppers, a large medley of about twenty varied tomatoes, two eggplant selections, a cucumber, both pole and bush beans, a couple of squash options, a melon, corn and a whole lot of basil.

“Hmmm, I think I’d better write a column about this”. I thought to myself, as I stood there in dismay.

Fall Vegetables

Here’s the problem.  .  .  in the past year or two, legions of non-gardeners have taken up growing vegetables. These people are new to gardening; novices to shovels, soil, hoses and growing plants. These beginners need a few positive experiences in order to sustain their enthusiasm, to keep them planting, and to expand their gardening activity into other areas of the landscape.

As I stood reviewing the offerings, with coffee in hand, a lady came through the front door and immediately made a left turn directly to the large vegetable display. She was clearly a busy person, probably a mom. She knew her way around the department and certainly had been there before. With an empty shopping cart she began her selections. Some peppers, beans, a couple of tomatoes, a basil or two and several other vegetables from the selection.

I imagined that soon she would be home, with gloves on and spade in hand, planting her new crop. She would then spend the next few weeks tending to her young transplants, waiting for the bounty of healthy, fresh, seasonal vegetables for her and her family to enjoy. Maybe the children would help a little too, getting first-hand experience about the joys of gardening.

Of course, she was doomed to failure.

Missing from her shopping basket were any lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, spinach, beets, peas, onions, radish, fava beans, carrots, cauliflower, chard, romaine or Brussels sprouts; the vegetables that should really be planted at this time of the year.

This young gardening newbie was headed toward a disaster in her garden; certainly she would be frustrated by the results of her efforts and her wasted time and money. Would she abandon vegetable gardening altogether? Maybe. I hope not. But, this scenario would be played out over and over again by anyone who visited this display.

Not a single vegetable in the display was appropriate for a fall to winter vegetable garden in southern California. She couldn’t have possibly succeeded with the choices she was offered.

If this were an automobile repair shop, the state Attorney General’s office would have shut them down. If it were a pet store, PETA would be picketing on the front sidewalk. A restaurant and the county Health Care Agency would close the doors. But it’s just plants; plants that are out of season and doomed to failure. A waste of money. A tragedy.

I should have said something to her, but I didn’t. Perhaps I’m just as guilty as anyone. But what would I have said? Here’s this stranger, with a now cold cup of coffee, lingering in front of the vegetable display giving advice. I can imagine the conversation. “You know, these vegetables are all out of season”, I would say. “Who are you”, she might have asked, startled by a tall stranger in shorts and an old shirt, “Oh, I work at another nursery”, I could have responded. Then there would have been this awkward pause, after which she would have probably called over the department manager.

So I said nothing, she checked out, loaded her car and drove away. Maybe I should have said something. I didn’t. I wrote this column instead.

Ron Vanderhoff is the Nursery Manager at Roger’s Gardens, Corona del Mar.

Questions from Readers October 2.

Could you let me know when the best time to plant a dwarf lemon tree is?  I am thinking about a whiskey barrel that could be the home of a Meyer lemon or something like that.

Karen

Newport Beach

Answer:

Meyer Lemon is a great choice, in my opinion the best of the lemons for home gardeners. We are fortunate in coastal Southern California to be able to plant citrus just about year-round. So, if you’re anxious and just can’t wait, go ahead now. Nonetheless, the absolute best time is during the spring or early summer. Since citrus are subtropical, they love warm months and planting at the beginning of this period is perfection.

In a container, I suggest using an especially fast draining, porous soil. Either mix 1/3 pumice into a high quality potting soil or buy “cactus mix”, which will be about the same thing.

Assembly_7-24-10_4

Plant Care Reminders

Plumeria Monthly Plant Care
Trees Steve Brigham

Plumeria spp (Plumeria) - Monthly Plant Care Calendar

You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!
Tomato Monthly Plant Care
Edibles Lucy Warren

Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) - Monthly Plant Care Calendar

You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!

Camellia (Camellia spp) - Monthly Plant…

3547 Julie Bawden-Davis
Camellia Monthly Plant Care
You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!

Cabbage (Brassica oleracea) - Monthly…

621 San Diego Seed Company
Swiss Chard Plant Care
You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!

Aeonium spp (Aeonium) - Monthly Plant…

8025 Solana Succulents
Aeonium Monthly Plant Care
You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!

Gardening Articles

Ron Vanderhoff
Intrinsic Gardening Ron Vanderhoff

Why Garden?

Only two or three years ago gardening was pronounced dead. 
Fruit Crossword
Crossword Puzzles Garry Shirts

Puzzle #10 - Fruit

Print this and take a few minutes and have some fun trying to figure this crossword puzzle out. Let us know if you have any suggestions for new puzzles. Be sure not to peek!

Rhonda Fleming Hayes - Midwest

18031
Region: Midwest

Sedums Star in the Fall and Winter Garden

27593
Sedum 'Mr. Goodbud'
Often referred to as succulents because of their thick, moisture-retentive leaves, sedums…

APLD International Landscape Design Gold Award Winner W Gary Smith

3117
Innis Free
APLD Names 2011 Landscape Designer of the Year

Plant Recommendations

Hong Kong Orchid Tree
Plant Recommendations Jacqueline McGee

Trees - Southern California

Jacqueline McGee's Top Plant Recommendation: Favorite Trees for Southern California.

Less Common Southern Fruits

17991 Kate Copsey
Uncommon southern fruits
When people in the south think of growing fruit, the first one that comes to mind is…

Other Plants in My Garden - Southern…

3328 Jan Brider
Digitalis purpurea
Jan Brider's Top Plant Recommendation: Favorite Other Plants In My Garden for Southern…

Featured Plant Care

Heuchera Monthly Plant Care

Alumroot (Heuchera spp.) - Monthly Plant Care Calendar

You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!
Gardenia Monthly Plant Care

Gardenia (Gardenia spp) - Monthly Plant Care Calendar

in Shrubs
You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!
Citrus & Avocado Tree Guide

Citrus & Avocado Tree Planting and Care

in Edibles
Citrus and Avocado trees are well adapted to most areas of San Diego County, from the…
Asparagus Monthly Plant Care

Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis) - Monthly Plant Care Calendar

in Edibles
You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!

Latest Articles

Six things for your indoor plants during winter

Do These Six Things to Keep Indoor Plants Healthy During Winter

Winter has hit southern California along with the rest of the U.S. No polar vortex here,…
Gardening Professionals and Clubs

Gardening Pros & Clubs: Using the Great Features on the Mulch

We'd like to help connect gardening professional and home gardeners. We've designed a…
Star Jasmine Monthly Plant Care

Jasmine - Star (Trachelospermum jasminoides) - Monthly Plant Care Calendar

in Vines
You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!
Bababerry Raspberry Monthly Plant Care

Raspberry - Bababerry (Rubus idaeus 'Bababerry') - Monthly Plant Care Calendar

in Edibles
You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!

Popular Articles

Baseball Field Maintenance

Baseball Field Maintenance - A General Guide for Fields of All Levels

in Lawn
More great baseball field resources can be found here (including a pdf version of this…
Queen Palm Care & Use

The Queen Palm (Syagrus romanzoffiana) Care & Use

in Trees
Jungle Music Palms and Cycads is a family owned and operated business established in 1977
Microgreens

What are Microgreens and How to Grow Them

in Edibles
Microgreens are tiny leafed vegetables that are grown from seed and require very little…
Kahili Ginger Plant Care

Hedychium gardnerianum (Kahili Ginger) - Monthly Plant Care Calendar

You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!

User Guides (Slide)

Popular Recommendations (Slide)