39a2f7f1b8b455d0c6542be208a17660
Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive
 

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

Articles about Seasonal Gardening (Click for Full List)

Rancho Viejo
Seasonal Gardening Ron Vanderhoff

'We're not in Kansas', now is the time to Garden - southern California

Eighty years ago Dorothy opened her door, walked outside and into a garden. 
San Diego Fair
Seasonal Gardening Ron Vanderhoff

A Fair Time in San Diego for Local Gardeners

I enjoy county fairs. I probably haven’t missed one in thirty years. It’s cheap entertainment, but it’s the down-to-earth style and community spirit of a county fair that appeals to me the most.

Amaryllis for Container Growing and Holiday Giving

78018 Chris Eirschele
Amaryllis bellandonna
The amaryllis gardeners grow in containers during the frigid cold winter months then…

April is an Active Time in Local Gardens

4682 Ron Vanderhoff
Hydrangeas
I suspect that April might be the busiest month of the year for most local gardeners.

As Daylength Changes, Garden Plants Respond

9014 Ron Vanderhoff
Daylight Chart
On Monday morning December 21st at precisely 9:47 a.m. our annual winter solstice will…

Cool or Warm, Plants have a Preference

4096 Ron Vanderhoff
Cool Season Plants
All day at local nurseries, the questions come every few minutes; “Why are my aeoniums…

Dahlias Planted now will Flower all Summer and Fall

22771 Ron Vanderhoff
"Dahlias are back in fashion", said the magazine title.

Don't Believe Everything You Read - Gardening is Regional

4338 Ron Vanderhoff
Gardening is Regional
If you're a gardener in southern California you may have read the following articles in…

Easy to Grow and Share Paperwhites

2921 Dawn Hummel
Bulb sizes differ
There is nothing like the intoxicating, spicy perfume of Narcissus Paperwhites ‘Ziva’ to…

Fall blooming Bulbs

4164 Carole McCray
Gladiolas Blooming
Continue the parade of color once daffodils, tulips, crocuses and hyacinths have put on…

Herbs for a 'Cool' Garden

3531 Ron Vanderhoff
Cilantro 'Santo'
When gardeners talk about the cultivation any loose assemblage of plants, say vegetables,…

New Zealand Flax Winter Plant Care

62736 Dawn Hummel
New Zealand Flax  Winter Care
I am a huge fan of Phormiums.

Pacific NW Wintry Wonderland

4537 Dawn Hummel
Greenhouse
Over the past two weeks, the usually mild-winter Pacific Northwest has gotten hammered…

Plant a Garden for the Seasons

2682 Ron Vanderhoff
Seasons in the Garden
One of the greatest joys that a garden has to offer is as a reminder of seasonal change.

Preparing For Your Winter Vegetables

26735 whittier fertilizer
Winter Vegetables
Winter is rapidly approaching and those with vegetable gardens will need to be prepared…

Pruning Peaches, Plums and Apricots

32456 Ron Vanderhoff
Default Image
Read Part Two Of This Article Here.

Sedums Star in the Fall and Winter Garden

27589 Carole McCray
Sedum 'Mr. Goodbud'
Often referred to as succulents because of their thick, moisture-retentive leaves, sedums…

So Much to do in the Fall Garden

2908 Ron Vanderhoff
Fall Tasks
Although the days are shortening at this time of year, a gardener's to-do list is not.

Spring Care Tips for Pampas Grass

100381 Dawn Hummel
Pampas Grass Spring Care
Spring Care Tips for Pampas Grass

Summer Pruning of Fruit Trees Keeps them the Right Size

18364 Ron Vanderhoff
Stone Fruit
This past winter I wrote two columns about the proper pruning of stonefruits and other…

Summer Vegetables are Hot

4693 Ron Vanderhoff
Melon from Seed
May and June is the perfect time to plant heat loving summer vegetables.

The New Veggie Season Starts!

3733 Kate Copsey
Warm and Cool Season Veggies
Depending on where you are in the south, sometime in April is when the last frost usually…

The Southern Vegetable Garden in Summer

14407 Kate Copsey
Zuchini Blossom
Summer is synonymous with fresh tomatoes, sweet corn and watermelon.

The Year in Gardening, 2010

2843 Ron Vanderhoff
Garden Vegetables
As I have for the past five years, it’s time to take a look back at the gardening year…

Tis the Season for Giving

2720 Carole McCray
Amaryllis are great gifts
Forget the mundane gifts and look at these suggestions for gifts that get a “green”…

Tulips or Amaryllis? - Southern California

30920 Ron Vanderhoff
Amaryllis
Passing the bulb department at the nursery, a young shopper asked me, “How do I grow…

You Can’t Fool Mother Nature - Early Spring in the So Cal Garden

2955 Ron Vanderhoff
Pansies
It seems mothers’ can always tell when their children are telling a fib.

Featured Plant Care

Birch Monthly Plant Care

Betula spp. (Birch) - Monthly Plant Care Calendar

in Trees
You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!
French Lavendar Monthly Plant Care

Lavender - French (Lavandula dentata) - Monthly Plant Care Calendar

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

Buddleja davidii (Butterfly Bush) - Monthly Plant Care Calendar

in Shrubs
You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!
English Lavender Monthly Plant Care Reminders

Lavender - English (Lavandula angustifolia) - Monthly Plant Care Reminders

in Shrubs
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)