Sacramento Digs Gardening logo
Sacramento Digs Gardening Article
Your resource for Sacramento-area gardening news, tips and events

Articles Recipe Index Keyword Index Calendar Twitter Facebook Instagram About Us Contact Us

Time to plant for cooler days ahead

Seed packages
Believe it or not, it's time to start thinking of cool-season vegetables. (Photo: Kathy Morrison)

Start cool-season favorites such as lettuce and kale

In the heat of mid-summer, it's time to think cool -- as in cool-season vegetables.

Get a jump on fall and winter by starting seeds indoors. Such favorites as lettuce, kale, chard, broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower benefit from a head start before transplanting into the vegetable garden.

These seeds need warmth to sprout -- but not too much. Lettuce, for example, won't germinate if soil temperature is above 80 degrees. But a comfortable spot in the 70s on your kitchen counter will help them sprout right away.

These baby veggies can be moved quickly outside, but keep them sheltered from hot afternoon sun. Let them grow their first few leaves while sitting in the shade.

As they grow bigger and stronger, these transplants can move into the vegetable garden, replacing spent summer crops. If possible, give them some afternoon shade by planting them in the shadow of larger plants such as tomatoes or peppers. When those tomatoes are done, the cool-season replacements will be ready to take over their space.

Cool-season veggies also can act as living mulch. Sow leaf lettuce directly in the soil around peppers and eggplant. The lettuce will benefit from the shade of the taller plants while keeping the soil cool. It helps the peppers and eggplant while also helping the baby lettuce.

The key to success with these early cool-season veggies: Water. They need consistent moisture while germinating and during early development. Once established, these transplants can get by with deep watering once a week. Double that during triple-digit days in late August and September.

How soon until harvest? Leaf lettuce can be picked as soon as 30 days. Head lettuce needs longer, usually 55 to 60 days. Broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower can take 60 to 180 days to reach maturity, depending on variety -- another reason to get an early start.


0 comments have been posted.

Newsletter Subscription

Sacramento Digs Gardening to your inbox.

Local News

Ad for California Local

Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 26:

Sacramento can expect another inch of rain from this latest storm. Leave the sprinklers off at least another week. Temps will dip down into the low 30s early in the week, so avoid planting tender seedlings (such as tomatoes). Concentrate on these tasks before or after this week’s rain:

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* Knock off aphids with a strong blast of water or some bug soap as soon as they appear.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Prepare summer vegetable beds. Spade in compost and other amendments.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Feed camellias at the end of their bloom cycle. Pick up browned and fallen flowers to help corral blossom blight.

* Feed citrus trees, which are now in bloom and setting fruit.

To prevent sunburn and borer problems on young trees, paint the exposed portion of the trunk with diluted white latex (water-based) interior paint. Dilute the paint with an equal amount of cold water before application.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* Seed and renovate the lawn (if you still have one). Feed cool-season grasses such as bent, blue, rye and fescue with a slow-release fertilizer. Check the irrigation system and perform maintenance. Make sure sprinkler heads are turned toward the lawn, not the sidewalk.

* In the vegetable garden, transplant lettuce and kale.

* Seed chard and beets directly into the ground.

* Plant summer bulbs, including gladiolus, tuberous begonias and callas. Also plant dahlia tubers.

* Shop for perennials. Many varieties are available in local nurseries and at plant events. They can be transplanted now while the weather remains relatively cool.

Contact Us

Send us a gardening question, a post suggestion or information about an upcoming event.