Yarrow plants I propagated just before the last series of rainstorms. They're doing really well. It's for a project that I will write about soon.

With more wonderful rain on the forecast for tomorrow, I was out in the garden weeding today. One of the very nicest problems we have in the Southern California garden is that there’s a huge amount of flexibility in what seasons we can grow various plants. My friend Erik at Homegrown Evolution, in a post about Stella Natura calendar planting, alluded to this:

But here in Los Angeles, where we have a four month time span to plant most things, following the Stella Natura calendar is a good way of avoiding procrastination.

I call this sort of strategy “punctuation.” To belabor the analogy, in the run-on sentence that is L.A. gardening, we need to find places to put in commas and periods. Some use an external calendar like Stella Natura, I’ve never tried it though. My favorite garden-anti-procrastination strategy to garden in advance of forecasted rain.

When there’s rain predicted, that’s a great time to go out and get something done in the garden. These are kind of obvious, but here are my suggestions:

  1. Seed. Seeds first soak up water, then get going. Spreading them before a rainstorm means that they’ll get a good soak on their way to germinating. This is a good activity to do even while the rain is coming down. Other than for fairly large seeds (like beans and corn) I personally don’t bother to dig seeds in much. I figure that nature doesn’t really dig holes for seeds, so why should I?  I  just sow them atop the ground, and let the rain carry them into tiny runnels and crevices. This is especially good for greens – with small seeds – like lettuce, mizuna, collards, kale… just toss them out there and add water. Make sure to keep an eye on them though – weed around them. This is when I haven’t planned ahead enough to actually start these in seed-starter mix – which works really well.
  2. Transplant. Plants get a shock when they’re transplanted. Transplanting before rains helps minimize the shock. Rainwater is cleaner and healthier than tap water, so it gets transplants off to a healthy start. If you haven’t planned ahead (does any detect a theme here?) just buy some starters, and get them in the ground in advance of rains.
  3. Weed. All that devil grass really likes the rain, too. If you pull it up ahead of the rains, then you don’t let your enemies (said only slightly tongue-in-cheek) take advantage of the rain. If you leave the weeds in, then the rain will help them spread. Preferably fill the voids with a desired transplant…

The best seasons for planting in Southern California are basically any time other than the heat of the summer. This corresponds well with the seasons when we do get some rain (basically September through May.) So, keep an eye on the weather forecast, and make a point of spending at least a little extra quality time in the garden before each predicted rainfall.

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