You may have noticed that Spring has sprung, even if it feels like summer. If you have cabin fever and no more appetite for puzzles, series bingeing, quarantine cooking and Zoom happy hours, the good news is that your backyard is a whole other room to hang out in. Whether you have a roomy, fenced in yard or only enough room for a container, this is the time to get your hands dirty and watch shit grow. I’m a super novice gardener and just like to read up and experiment with varying results, but when you are dealing with Mother Nature that is the name of the game. If you keep at it you will learn quickly which plants do well where, and why. Here is a short list of my favorite herbs and vegetables to plant now, either from seed or plant. All of these lovelies need full sun, which in Los Angeleez we have in abundance.
The king of the summer garden, mid-April is the time to plant tomatoes. They love heat and food, so til the soil as deeply as you can until it’s very fluffy and mix in good compost with a heavy hand. Dig a deep hole because you’re going to bury the plant all the way up to its bottom leaves (which can grow their own roots). If you have organic fertilizer, you can throw a handful into the bottom of the hole before placing the plant. Water deeply once planted, and then monthly, deep soaks. Space them 3 feet apart because the plant can grow really large. You’re also going to want to stick wire tomato cages you can get at any hardware store around each plant so the vines have something to latch onto as it grows and that will support the fruit, which can get heavy. There are countless number of tomato varieties so read up on the different types to decide which ones sound tasty to you. A good source of heirloom plants is right in our own backyard – Laurel Garza grows thousands of plants a year and ships them all over the country, but sells a limited number of varieties every Sunday in her Lomita driveway. Check Laurel’s Tomato Plants for current schedule and COVID procedures.
Small or big, mild or hot, peppers are tomatoes heat-loving friend in the garden. Peppers can grow well in containers or in the ground, but they need as much room as tomatoes so choose a large (at least a foot in diameter) container or plant at least a foot away from your other veggies/herbs in the ground. Simply put your seeds on top of the soil and push in with your finger, or bury the plant almost as deep as you did the tomatoes. Compost and water deeply and often! Important – be sure to wear gloves, or wash your hands well after since pepper plants will make your eyes sting just as much as the peppers themselves will.
Rosemary and Thyme
You cannot mess this one up. Rosemary LOVES heat and you can forget to water for days and it won’t be mad at ya. While my tomatoes and peppers are in raised beds, I grow herbs in containers outside my kitchen door for easy clipping when I need them in a recipe. Like mint, rosemary can get wild *quickly*, so I grow it alone or at most, plant it with thyme which has similar water requirements (that is, when you think about it). In a container next to it I have dill and mint which are way more finicky with water and I have to watch them pretty closely.
Remember, have fun, get your hands dirty and enjoy the fresh air!