July 4th is a time of patriotic celebration and is also a target date for starting my transplants for a cool season vegetable gar-den. It is a funny time of year to be thinking cool, yet the summer solstice is past, days are getting shorter and fall ap-proaches though many hot days lie ahead. I start my seedlings in wooden flats filled with com-post for cabbage, broccoli, cau-liflower and brussel sprouts. These can be transplanted to the garden in late August-early September. Keep them well watered.
Onion seeds can be started later, about the 20th of August. Beets, kale, kohlrabi, carrots, chard, turnips, parsnips and lettuce are directly into my gar-den near the end of August. Sometimes using flats is a good defense against snail or slug attacks on small lettuce seed-lings which are more vulnerable when seeded directly. For more information on cool season vegetable gardening, see the article on page 1.
If not done already it may still be time to prop up those orchard trees that are weighty with fruit to avoid limbs breaking. July is a time for harvesting Gravenstein ap-ples and other summer ap-ples. In our hot climate, summer apples often soon leave the tree after ripening so pay attention and pick daily. I usually store them for a few days until I have enough for several batches of apple sauce and jelly. One good feature of apples is they come with their own pectin for making jelly. In late August, the Red Deli-cious, Yellow Delicious, Fuji, Enterprise and other apples are also ripening. July is also the season for Santa Rosa, El Dorado and Howard?s Miracle plums among others. These are great for eating fresh or making jam. Red Haven Peaches will be ripe in early July and will be a nice breakfast mate for your ce-real. August will bring on Elberta, Faye Elberta, Rio Oso, O?Henry and other peaches and nectarines.
It is a good time to do some summer pruning of apples and other fruit trees. It will keep tree size manageable; improve your crop for this year and next year too. There are some videos on YouTube that will show you how to do it.
In the garden, despite the cool spring, we can plan for toma-toes, peppers and eggplant harvests to begin. Peppers often sun scald in our hot cli-mate. Hence taking off some of the blossoms early to retard fruit development will encour-age the plant to grow more foliage to shade the crop. Corn, zucchini and other sum-mer squash need to be picked frequently. It is not too late to plant some beans, pumpkins, hubbard squash, butternut squash and corn for fall har-vest. Roma or San Marzano or Amish Paste tomatoes are excellent canned for those soups, beans and stews next winter and nothing beats the delicious sweetness of tomato juice made from home grown tomatoes.