I grow in zone 10ish. I know, what is it, zone 10a or zone 10b? By the charts we are zone 10b, but California is a unique place full of microclimates and mini zones. There are a few givens in our coastal community, just south of Los Angeles - we can grow all year, we get a marine layer, we will have powdery mildew and we will have aphids. As we head into May we are prepping for summer, dealing with cloudy mornings and experimenting with methods to control the powdery mildew and the aphids. I am including our planting lists, some garden goals and methods to deal with powdery mildew and aphids.
The Good Stuff
We are currently eating:
- purple mustard greens
- several types of lettuce
- tender leaf chard
- swiss chard
- kale - red russian
- radishes - french breakfast, rat tail and stargazer
- herbs - basil, dill, cilantro, chives, oregano, mint and sage
- giant snow peas
- edible flowers - nasturtiums, violas and chive blossoms
Our greens, peas and radishes have exceeded expectations and given us plenty of extras for sharing. I am regularly handing out bags of salad makings and citrus to neighbors and co-workers. Yay! One of our garden goals was to have enough extra produce to share - goal achieved! You know I love a good salad. The Spring Garden Strawberry Salad and the Kale and Mixed Greens Salad are on repeat in our house.
In the garden now, but not ready to eat, includes:
- tomatoes - black prince, cream sausage, cherokee purple, sungold, silvery fir tree
- eggplant - bride
- artichokes - green globe
- peppers - gypsy, aleppo, mini chocolate, pequin, gochugaru, etc. (I like peppers!)
- squash - yellow and costata romanesco
- cucumbers - lemon and patio snacker
- lima beans - shantyboat
- asparagus pea
- pink banana squash - living in a pot until temperatures are more stable
We planted during a heat wave and then the weather took a turn. A cool wave and a heavy marine layer set in, making it hard on the squash and cucumber plants. Normally, we are safe to plant most things in April, but that may not be the case this year. Mother Nature can be so difficult! Not to worry though, I have back-up seedlings coming along in case conditions prove to hard for the new plantings. In the past I might try to nurse along stunted plants but now that I am a seed starting addict I realize It is much better to remove a stunted plant and replace it with a new healthy one. My space is too limited to put up with under performers.
The spring garden is really full right now but most of the greens will start to bolt or fade and need to be replaced soon. With that in mind, I did another round of seed starting this weekend that included:
- Okra - kibler family, bradford family and rabwah taj
- cowpeas - california blackeye
- pole beans - cherokee trail of tears
- bush beans - mascotte
- melon - red fig, ha ogen
- squash (just in case we planted too early) - yellow and costata romanesco
- mexican sour gherkins
- lettuce - red sails, salad bowl blend
- tomato - green zebra, costoluto fiorentino
I also direct sowed Italian basil, purple basil, cilantro and dill. All of these are growing now but you have to keep starting successive rounds of seeds as these herbs have a limited life. I plan to start a few more "just in case" cucumbers too.
The Problem Stuff
We have already had a mild powdery mildew outbreak that resulted in some seedlings and young plants finding their way into the trash. Sorry, but it was the best answer. I saved a couple of seedlings and put them into quarantine to experiment with a couple of recommended treatments and preventative options. The worst affected plants will always be removed from the garden but I am hoping some preventative measures and early treatment might prove effective. I am trying the following:
Aphids are always a problem here and in the past I have found my best option was to give the plants a good higher pressure water wash. You see the aphids hang on by a proboscis and the washing will break it off and the aphids will die. Again, garden life is hard.... If all else fails I end up removing the affected plant. Recently, my sweet neighbor, Lorie, gave me a gift of a homemade bug spray and it seems to work on the aphids without harming the plant and it is organic. Lorie got the recipe from her friend Judy - hence the name.
Judy's Super-Duper Bug and Worm Killer
- fill quart spray bottle 3/4 full with warm water
- add 1/4 cup of Listerine (yep - I said Listerine)
- 2 squirts of dish soap
- 1 teaspoon of oil (olive or vegetable)
Shake it all up and spray generously on affected plants in the evening. Most of the aphids will be dead by morning and can be washed away. Reapply as needed.
This is how we close out April in zone 10ish and head into May. We are eating salads, peas and greens while looking forward to tomato, squash and cucumber time. Doesn't it seem like the minute you can't eat another pea they are done and something bright and new is ready. It just doesn't get old! I hope your garden is coming together and Mother Nature smiles on your space. FYI, feel free to keep any aphids to yourself......