Spring & Summer Gardening Tips

Chief Horticulturist Jon Windsor with a display of warm season flowers at Green Thumb Nursery in Newhall on Thursday. Dan Watson/The Signal

Are you feeling a need to get your hands dirty and grow something beautiful (or tasty)? You’re not alone!

“Spring has sprung. When people see flowers blooming everywhere, they want to start gardening,” said John Windsor, chief horticulturist at Green Thumb Nursery in Newhall.  “April will be the busiest month of the year here.”

Annual flower such as petunias, vincas, zinneas, and marigolds are ideal for spring and summer, as they only require water and sunshine to thrive. They are available in eye-popping jewel tones of purple, pink, and yellow. There are also some varieties with spectacular patterns, like the Red Star Petunias, which resemble flowery candy canes, in six packs.

Ultra Violet Petunias at Green Thumb Nursery in Newhall on Thursday. Dan Watson/The Signal

According to Windsor, these flowers are easy enough to plant for novice gardeners. “Basically, loosen up your soil, add amendments, your flowers, and water occasionally,” he said. “They love the sun and can take the heat we all know is coming.”

Color bowls are a convenient way to add beautiful bright hues to your landscape, combining several spring and summer annuals in a 16” plastic dish.

This season is also ripe to plant bountiful produce. The most favored vegetables including tomatoes, zucchinis, peppers, eggplants, and cucumbers, while a variety of melons are the perfect fruits to include in your garden.

It’s a trend that Windsor has seen grow over the years.

“Growing your own produce is extraordinary popular. People are more in tune with want to know what goes into their food. There’s a distrust of corporate farming. This way, they know what they’re eating,” he said.

So, if you had a fall/ winter garden, it’s time to take out those plants and replace with seeds or starter plants more suited for spring and summer.

Chief Horticulturist Jon Windsor with a display of certified organic vegetables at Green Thumb Nursery in Newhall on Thursday. Dan Watson/The Signal

“Those plants may still look good, but each crop is meant to live and die in six months,” Windsor explained.

For a 100 square foot garden, you’ll need:

  • 12 cubic feet of organic material
  • 4 pounds of all-purpose organic fertilizer
  • 5 pounds pelletized gypsum
  • 5 pounds dolomite lime
  • 2 pounds of Epson salts and Azomite
  • 5 pounds rock phosphate or bone meal
  • 5 pounds greensand and/or sul-po-mag

Break the garden into quadrants, planting tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant in the first; cucumbers, squash, and melons in the second; carrots, radishes, and beets in the third; and legumes in the fourth.

Red star petunias at Green Thumb Nursery in Newhall on Thursday. Dan Watson/The Signal

If you don’t have room for such a large garden, there are other options, such as a 4’ x 4’ square (there are a few premade at Green Thumb Nursery) that only requires 15 cubic feet of soil. Here’s the recipe:

  • One large bale of peat moss or coconut coir
  • Two bags of organic compost
  • One large bag of vermiculite
  • Three bags of sand
  • Three bags of pumice
  • 5 pounds of pelletized gypsum
  • 5 pounds of sul-po-mag
  • 5 pounds of dolomite lime
  • 5 pounds of soft rock phosphate
  • 5 pounds of organic fertilizer

Whether to use seeds or plants that have already been started depends on how much time and space you have. For example, a 100 square foot garden could generate enough produce for a family of four throughout the season.

“With seeds, everyone in the packet could eventually become a plant,” Windsor said. “Most households wouldn’t know what to do with that.”

In addition to fruits and vegetables, consider planting some herbs, which tend to do very well during the spring and summer.

“They smell so good. Who doesn’t love the smell of herbs?” Windsor said.

Apparently, insects and rodents do. That smell and an opportunity for a free meal tends to attract everything from snails and slugs to rabbits and even raccoons.

A display of warm season flowers at Green Thumb Nursery in Newhall on Thursday. Dan Watson/The Signal

“There are a number of organic, food grade sprays for edible crops that will help deter insects,” Windsor said. “For rodents, there are traps, repellants, screening, and fencing.”

Even with those potential challenges, gardening is a worthwhile endeavor for the whole family.

“After all the rain and cold we’ve had, it’s a great time to get outside,” Windsor said. “Get your hard work done before the heat comes and then it’s just a matter of watering and weeding.”

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