Last month we gave you the green-thumb basics…and some tips from the pros to get your own backyard garden (big or small) started.
This month in the follow-up to our two-part series, we bring you a handy-dandy guide for what you should be planting and when!
LATE SPRING AND SUMMER
Green Valley Nursery and Landscape in El Dorado Hills is swathed in pink – from pastel impatiens to pepto-pink begonias. But for area nurseries, edible plants are the stars this time of year, and there’s still time to put in your summer garden.
“Tomatoes usually take from 72 to 90 days to harvest – that’s just an average,” says Melodee Dailey of Green Valley Nursery. “This is still a good time to plant tomatoes, squash and peppers. Basil, oregano and sage, too.” Dailey says that snap peas and lettuces thrive in areas with afternoon shade in late spring, as well.
A San Marzano tomato, one of Dailey’s favorites, is the perfect variety for canning and for sauces, and it does well in the Sacramento Valley. Pumpkins and summer squash are also favorites. “A pumpkin is so dramatic. It’s something kids can see growing every day,” Dailey says.
But the garden doesn’t have to close once the heat of summer has abated. Tomatoes will continue to fruit into autumn, when avid gardeners are thinking about planting their fall crops. “Fall vegetables are ready to be planted in September and October, once you’re just about finished with your summer crop. Broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage can be planted once the soil begins to cool, though your tomatoes might still be going,” Dailey says.
Broccoli and cauliflower take about 60 days from planting until harvest, which means a delicious Christmas-time crop. “Homegrown broccoli is so much better than what you find in a store. They’re so tender and sweet – a beautiful vegetable,” Dailey says.
Artichokes are a crop that likes all seasons, and the plants look beautiful in pots as well as the garden bed.
WINTER AND EARLY SPRING
December and January, though not ideal for planting, are good months to take stock of garden essentials. “You’re still tending your winter garden and plotting for next year. This is a great time to take stock of what you did last year and what tomatoes you liked,” Dailey says. “Some people keep a nursery diary and use it to plan for the following year.”
Rich Swanson from Bushnell Gardens Nursery in Granite Bay agrees. “December through February is a time to let things rest, but early spring – March and April, it’s time to plant bare-root fruit trees, like stone fruit (peaches, nectarines, plums and other species).” Front Yard Nursery in Placerville also suggests planting bare-root trees and shrubs in the winter and has an extensive selection to choose from.
The birth of spring brings gardeners out, planting their favorite tomatoes and summer crops, once again. Swanson likes to plant blackberries and raspberries in March or April, with a reminder that when adding to your “urban orchard” care should be taken to assure proper watering, which isn’t necessarily the same as landscape irrigation. He also cautions that fruit trees typically take a year or longer to produce. “We would expect to see an early crop by July or August,” Swanson says of berries and mature fruit trees.
Dailey explains that more gardeners are planting fruit trees as an alternative to expensive store-bought fruit that could contain pesticides. “People are finding they can keep their trees small yet still productive. They’re beautiful trees and great for shade,” Dailey says.