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So it’s June, and the searing heat of the Southern California summer is pacing in the wings, waiting to take center stage.
Is it too late to put food-producing plants in the ground?
Conventional wisdom tells Southern California gardeners to avoid planting edibles in June because they’ll suffer and grow poorly when the temperatures get too high. But plenty of others disagree. Here, experts share tips for getting the most out of your harvest and list their favorite edibles to put in just as summer ramps up.
Read before you buy. Seek out heat-tolerant varieties of the edibles you want to put in, says Jimmy Williams, co-owner of Logan’s Garden, a nursery of organic edible plants in Silver Lake.
Shade tender transplants until they are established. This can be as simple as creating a temporary sun screen with an old screen or some strips of old bedding and a few stakes. (Just make sure that you are not smothering new plants by placing anything over them that limits air f low or traps heat.) Want something a little more durable? Go to latimes.com/home and you’ll find a DIY piece on creating a movable garden shield.
Try companion planting, says master gardener Lucy Heyming of Riverside. It’s a natural way of combining plants to maximize shade and nutrients. She suggests the “Three Sisters” gardening technique: Plant corn in the center of the bed. When it’s about 5 inches tall, plant beans around the corn and then, a week later, put in a few pumpkins on the outer edges of your plant bed.
Why does this work? The spreading pumpkins shade the roots of the corn, and the quickgrowing beans climb up the corn stalks while adding nitrogen to the soil.
YOUNG PLANTS can be vulnerable to sunlight and heat, but don’t hesitate to plant now. Just plan ahead.