All that winter rain has become blooming and eating wonders in our gardens. Aside from the assorted greens—bok choy, broccoli, chard, kales, and lettuces—that we’ve been enjoying all winter, now there are artichokes and peas and beets to center our meals and munchies. And the blooms! Nasturtiums and the first bearded irises and roses and a monster 8-foot-tall succulent. Yay for Spring!
Five different varieties of artichokes have given us a real taste-test treat. So far, one seems dry , whereas another has more flavor, and a third has more flesh. All provide a great excuse to enjoy mayonnaise, although I’ve been “needing” less because the flesh is tastier.
My husband prefers the peas he must shell, eating only the little internal nibblets. I grow several varieties—Burpeanna Early, Cascadia, Frosty, Little Marvel, Sabre, and Wando.
I prefer the sugar snap type, eating the entire pod. I depend on Sugar Snap and Super Sugar Snap, planting two cages worth. I also grow an additional cage of the dwarf versions—Sugar Daddy and Sugar Ann. But the fruits from the taller plants I’ve found to be more succulent and plentiful, although the plants are more gangly and therefore need a second story of my cages.
Perfect Transplant Weather
Our daytime temperatures of high 70s and nighttime temperatures of high 50s continue to be perfect weather for transplanting.
I just planted several new bearded irises and echiums and mimulus (the more drought-tolerant ones). My technique is this:
—Transplant in the late afternoon, when the sun is low in the sky. This timing will enable the plant to recuperate overnight from the transplanting procedure before being subjected to direct sun the next day.
—Dig a hole a foot wide and a foot deep.
—If transplants have roots growing in potting mix, massage and “tickle” the root ball to release most of it into the hole.
—Mix this mix with the soil dug from the hole. This will provide a “half-way house” of native soil and potting mix for the roots to grow in as they adapt to their new home.
—As you hold the transplant in the air, the roots now dangling down, rip off any straggling roots that are longer than the main concentrated clump that’s about 3 or 4 inches in size.
—Scoop out about half of the mixed soil from the hole.
—With one hand, hold the transplant in the hole so the root clump hangs straight down in the hole.
— With the other hand, scoop the mixed soil around the root clump so that the transition point from roots to stem is about one inch below the remaining soil.
—Rearrange mixed soil and native soil to form a berm or “donut” around the transplant so the watering hole is about 1 inch deep and 6 inches out from the plant stem.
—With fingertips, press mixed soil in the hole around the root clump.
—Fill “donut” with water three times to assure that it’s fully moistened the entire extended root zone area.
—If the plant is tender, provide a piece of cardboard or fencing to shade it from the mid-to-late-afternoon direct sun for a week or so.
—In 2 days, fill the “donut” again.
—In another 4 days, fill again.
—From then, water as necessary depending on your soil and the weather.
For more advice and insight from Yvonne Savio, please visit GardeningInLA.net.
Yvonne Savio grew up and still lives on a 3/4-acre hillside city lot in Pasadena, growing fruits, vegetables, and flowers year-round in manure- and compost-amended gardens. From years of gardening, she knows what “harvested at the perfect moment of ripeness” means and is passionate about enabling others to enjoy the benefits of “growing your own.”
Yvonne earned degrees in journalism, English literature, art and photography from California State University at Los Angeles and Sacramento; her horticulture degree is from American River College, Sacramento. For 15 years, she worked in the Botany and Vegetable Crops Cooperative Extension Departments at the University of California, Davis, where she conferred with Statewide Vegetable Specialists regarding cultural and postharvest handling techniques. In the early 1980s she helped initiate and develop the Master Gardener Program in Yolo County. From 1994-2015, she managed the Los Angeles County Master Gardener Program, teaching 1,183 volunteers who then helped 1.3 million residents to garden more sustainably.
Yvonne maintains demonstration and trial gardens in Southern and Northern California, specializing in drought-tolerant techniques for growing vegetables, fruits, perennials, roses, and succulents. She documents the creative fun stuff of repurposed tools and garden art. She loves chatting with gardening groups; for more of her presentation topics. see GardeningInLA.net/speaking.