Laurie Gore is the Official Zone 9 Deputy Gardener.

Gardening in Southern California is different than in northern parts of the country. We have no winter break from planting, weeding, pruning, and all the other chores. I’m really sorry we don’t. I have read about other gardeners who spend the snowy winter months planning every step of spring from the first thaw to that eventual passage into summer.

Seeds in the MailToday, Saturday, February 19th, in Bonita, California, is suppose to be rainy. I planned to spend the day catching up with household chores that are seriously in arrears. Then, surprisingly, the rain stopped, the clouds parted and midday was a beautiful, balmy gift. It was all I could do not to set aside the dust cloths and broom and go outside to play in the mud.

It was made even worse by the arrival of my Beekman Heirloom Garden seed packets. I cannot give in to my impulse and throw these into the ground today. My best success will come if I plan a little, read a little, and then work really, really hard for the rest of the year.

by Zone 9 Deputy Gardener Laurie Gore

Reader Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Matthew in L.A.

I found some free PDF downloads that might be of interest:

(I apologize in advance. After re-reading, I realize my my enthusiasm sounds really spammy. I subscribe to the magazine, but I don't work for them nor get paid by them. I'm posting these for US, and I am kind-of ridiculously happy to have found these online and free.)
*** It will ask for your email address and urge you

*** to subscribe to OG newsletter. This is why I

*** posted the direct links. But it IS a good NL.

1. Companion Planting Made Easy

2. Weekend Garden Projects

3. Organic Gardening Spring Planner

***(I'm going to use this next year.)


And the work-book-style chart makes it really easy to use. You can actually start working on it now to get ready for next year. Look up the info, do the math, fill in the chart and mark your calendar. Ridiculously easy, no?

"Timing is everything. To start your seeds on time, you need

to know the last spring frost (LSF) date for your area of the

country. If you don’t know this date, contact your regional

cooperative extension office ("

Matthew in L.A.

Just a quick note to update the seeds-by-mail situation:

Originally, I got my Beekman1802 seeds from Williams-Sonoma. They were available in-store and online. (I bought in-store to support keeping more local jobs.)

Today I checked the web site (I somehow foolishly managed to delete my bookmark) and found the product has disappeared. (The 2 beekman videos are still there, tho). I sincerely hope Williams-Sonoma will repeat the beekman promotion this Fall & Winter for a new crop next spring.

Happy Gardening and hope next year is better than this year.

Dr. Brent

Hi, Matthew

Thanks for sharing the info. The program with Williams-Sonoma will begin again in January. We look forward to your participation


Nesanne: what you are talking about is companion gardening. If you start looking around the web, you will see that there is a lot of information — and misinformation — about companion gardening. Some of it is science-based and some is just old wives' tales. I can't vouch for everything on this page but you might find interesting. It's pretty comprehensive and I am familiar with some of the recommendations. Data about crop rotation would be in any good vegetable garden book. Remember, also, that in a way this is all about biodiversity. A healthy garden is full of many plants and other living things that compliment each other.

Veronica Vatter

you know I think that the envy we feel towards people in other growing zones is like envying another person's figure or hair. You always want what you don't have. Straight hair wants curly, ect. Guess that just makes us human 🙂

Nesanne Seibert

Thanks for getting back to me. We are so very excited.

When I said "natural soil fertilization"…I read on a blog that it is beneficial to plant certain types of vegetables and plants together to compliment each other's different mineral attributes that they leave in the soil. When you get a chance..I can research too.

THANK YOU! Happy Day!


Hi back at you, Nesanne.

I've already started my tomatoes and peppers and I plan to plant my beans directly next month. Beans have such a short maturity date (41-52 for Bountiful) that its a good idea for the seeds go directly into the ground to avoid any loss from disturbing the roots. I looked around on the garden websites and some people say transplanting hasn't been a problem for them. If you are really in a bind, go ahead and start the beans inside and see what happens.

I'm not sure what you mean by "natural soil fertilization." But I don't see any problem with planting the vegetables from the Beekman collection in the same or adjoining beds.

For irrigation, it would be impossible for me to tell you exactly how many minutes and/or how many times a week. So much has to do with conditions in your beds. The thing you should look when watering is that there are no puddles that linger (a sign of over watering) and that the soil is moist (not soggy) through the root area. Do allow the soil to dry out a little between watering but not so much that the plants wilt. I know it would be easier if I could give specific and absolute answers but it really is a question of finessing it and adjusting constantly throughout the season.

Please check out the Master Gardener program in Riverside County: Here in San Diego we have a very active school garden program. Perhaps Riverside has something similar. If not, get back to me and I'll see what we can share across county lines.

Nesanne Seibert

Hi Laurie!

Our School/Church in Murrieta is starting a raised bed garden in hopes to teach the children (probably some adults too) that food doesn't come from a box or a drive through!

We are still in the box building stage and probably won't plant until the end of April. If we start the seeds inside in the coming weeks, can we plant everything in the ground at the same time?

And, can you recommend, from the Beekman seed pack, any of the vegetables to be planted together? For natural soil fertilization?

And, if using a drip or soaker hose, how long each day should it be left on to water?

Thanks for being our So Cal guru! So excited!



I should add that you can sign up for gardening tips based on your zone here on the Beekman site. They have a Grow as You Go newsletter at Also, there is a Zone 5 Heirloom Gardener who will be blogging here soon.

Still and even more, good luck,




You should figure out the zone for your area. I went to the National Gardening Association ( and plugged in a zip code for Detroit just to see and came up with 5b. From there, go to your state's Extension site — I found this from MSU: They should have some really good, well-researched information about how to get a vegetable garden going.

Good luck,




What is the best time to plant in Michigan? We do get a lot of frost and sometimes I plant my garden too early. What would you suggest?


Darleen Harrigan

Gardening all year round. Even though I'm in zone 8 and am already working outdoors I'm still jealous! 😉