Abundant Harvests - garden info

What I’m planting now, and why

Rain in Los Angeles – can you believe it? Looking to the upbeat, hopeful, future-oriented news, here’s what I’m planting now, and planning for the summer.

This past week, the rush on supermarkets was absolutely crazy. At this point, even the warehouses that back up all those supermarkets are likely emptied. That means the crunch is on at packaging and production levels — and who knows how many employees will be out sick, out taking care of family, and out for social distancing, all of which delays restocking. All that means we can totally expect to see higher food prices as people compete for the few remaining items, plus longer-term shortages.

I’m really glad my garden is packed with collards and chard right now, and boy do they like the rain! So in a bit I will have tons of that, plus grapefruits are dripping off my tree.

Right now, calendar-wise, we are at the change-over point in SoCalif seasons. The cool season crops — like my collards — are just completing, and once we get a spell of hot weather, most of those will be done. But it’s too soon for the summer crops — like tomatoes and peppers — they need it to be a bit warmer so as not to stunt their growth. So what are the crossover crops?

Arugula. This plant grows really quickly, it loves this time of year, cool and warm. You can succession-sow it (plant a little bit every few weeks to assure ongoing harvests). And as we get toward the end of April, if you seed it in the shade, you will probably have it deep into summer. Arugula can be eaten young and tender in a salad, or you can wilt it over pasta, so it has multiple uses, too.

Fava beans. We’re getting near the end of the planting window, but you can still put in another round, and they’ll yield for you. You can eat the growth tips as cooked greens, you can eat the finger-sized pods in their entirety, you can let the beans mature so that you get plump green fava beans, or you can let them dry out to get storage beans (or seed for next year).

Frisee-type chicories. These grow really well for me in my home garden. The pests that go after lettuce don’t seem to like them, so there’s more for me. I started with a chicory mix years ago, and the ones I continue to grow are the offspring of the survivors from that mix. I’ve read that you can cook them (I haven’t). I use them as salad greens instead of lettuce. They will continue into summer if planted in shade or filtered shade.

Leeks & green onions. You need it moist for them to sprout, so seeding in the rain is perfect. Plant them in the shade or filtered sun. If you let a few go to seed, you’ll have volunteers forever. (Volunteers = forever food, and isn’t that what we need right now?)

Chard. In coastal L.A. chard is nearly an all-season plant. It loves our cools season, but you can keep on planting it. If you plant toward the end of April, put it in the shade. Chard is a perfect substitute into any recipe that calls for “spinach.” Baby chard can also be eaten as a salad green.

Stay tuned for more about growing food in these crazy times. (you can subscribe to receive these posts in your email)