L.A.te Summer Gardening

An Introduction to Late Summer Gardens

Late summer, the period between August and early September, is a very hot stretch of time in LA County. It can be a very tricky time to plant due to the heat but it is still doable!

The seeds we’ll be providing are crops that can germinate at hotter temperatures and can withstand shortening days. It is imperative that crops be planted before September 8th. Some of the crops we are providing have long maturity windows and will not be ready until November, thus pushing planting back will push harvesting back. Unfortunately, in November we have shorter days and this will interfere with the plants’ ability to grow and produce fruit.

In the beginning of the school year, your Garden Educator will reach out via email asking if you are still the lead. Please respond to the email so we may schedule a drop off!

Crops you will receive:

  • Bean*
  • Corn* — plant at least 9 per large bed as they must cross-pollinate to produce fruit
  • Cucumber — plant with trellis or train to grow on corn
  • Garbanzo bean — plant with trellis or train
  • Pumpkin*
  • Summer Squash
  • Sunflower

*denotes a Three Sister Garden crop

Best Practices: Improving Germination Rates

  • Take your local climate into consideration: gardens in very warm locations like The Valley, in Downtown, and/or in the middle of a playground with no shade may want to start their seeds in trays, pots, or egg cartons where they can be kept moist easier.
    • Tip: if you start seeds in an egg carton, poke drainage holes on the bottom. Remove the seedling from the carton after germination—do not “plant” the carton in the Learning Garden!
    • Tip: transplant your seedlings when they are still little and are more able to adapt.
    • Tip: Plant more seeds than you think are necessary to ensure you have survivors! Remove the weaker plants.
  • Plant early in the day: if planting directly in the garden beds, try to plant before 10am when the sun’s rays aren’t as strong. This will help you and your students keep cool. Seedlings should be transplanted early in the day as well.
  • Keep seeds moist: seeds must be kept moist to germinate.
    • make sure your garden soil is already moist before planting
    • seeds planted directly in the LG: water the entire bed, not just the immediate area where seeds were planted. Soil acts like a sponge and dry sections will absorb water from areas watered leaving seeds dry.
    • seeds started in a container: check your seeds daily as they can dry out easily due to their small container size. Make sure there are drainage holes on the bottom of your container, as you want moist not sopping wet soil.

Advanced Strategies:

  • Try scarification! Scarification is the process of gently filing down the narrow side of the seed coat to make it easier for the embryo to break out of the seed coat. You can learn more about it in this Instructable. Only seeds with thick, tough seed coats should be scarified so only try this with pumpkin and other squash seeds.
  • Try soaking your seeds! Certain seeds have higher rates of germination or germinate faster when soaked in water. Cool/warm (not hot!) tap water will do just fine! If you soak them longer, you should still plant them as they can still germinate!
    • Corn: soak seeds 8-12 hours hours before planting
    • Cucumber: soak seeds 8 hours
    • Squash (this includes pumpkin): soak seeds 8-12 hours
    • Sunflower: 8 hours
    • Do not soak chickpeas/garbanzo, bush beans, or any other beans

If you have any questions, please reach out to your Garden Educator!

Happy growing,

M