Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Summer Vegetable Planting on the California North Coast

In the last two years I've had no success growing basic vegetables here on the north coast. I'm not really an experienced vegetable gardener but figured I'd try to grow a few things here. Tomatoes have done poorly whether grown outdoors or in my greenhouse. I don't have a raised bed ready but plan to in the future. After growing tomatoes on my back yard deck with little success I've decided the best area to grow vegetables is in the back yard at the far end where the kiwi vines and butterfly bushes are located. This area gets more sun than the rest of the back yard and the sun loving plants are growing in that location.

This year I received some free vegetable seeds through my BBC Gardener's World magazine. One of the articles in the magazine talked about using a general rule of planting seeds no deeper than the size of the seed which I thought was a great shortcut to use when planting seed up. I got a great deal on hanging metal baskets and decided to plant up the seeds for cherry tomatoes and cayenne peppers and hang the baskets off the metal kiwi structure. Should be pretty much snail proof as the baskets are quite far up in height and the metal structure has a rough surface which should deter them if they try to crawl up to the baskets. The plants should receive a great deal of sun in this location. If this works it's bell peppers and zucchini next.

The coastal weather doesn't bode well for tomatoes overall, it is generally pretty chilly here most of the time and much harder for tomatoes to do well with fog and cooler weather. Since the average temperature here is 55 degrees with a high of 70 in the summer its been a challenge to say the least. I think cherry tomatoes may fare better overall because of the small fruits so they may grow easier here than the larger varieties. Store bought tomatoes tend to be pretty flavorless and I'm eager to home grow them to supply us with some real tomato flavor. As for the cayenne peppers they are not my first choice for pepper growing (I prefer serrano peppers for salsa) but they were free and I've never grown them before so we'll see what happens.

I should say that the past homeowner planted two artichoke plants beneath the kiwi vines and they both do fairly well here. One of the plants is planted farther out into the sun and produces some artichokes although none have been viable yet. I'm pretty certain both plants are not very old as I've read that artichoke plants can get up to 4 to 5 feet wide and tall when fully grown. If you are growing artichokes on the coast place them in a location with full sun available throughout the day and give them plenty of room to spread out as the plants mature. I don't know much about artichokes but the artichokes being produced so far aren't of good quality or edible so we'll see what happens with this season's crop.

Keeping the vegetable seeds watered enough may be a problem but I'm hoping they do well in the hanging baskets and in the full sun location near the kiwi vines. If all goes badly in the planters I'll plant them up with trailing nasturstiums instead and enjoy the yellow and orange colors draping from the baskets.

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