Dirt Digging in July

Do you feel like you missed your window to plant veggies this year? With July heat about to hit, I feel like planting the seeds to live a different kind of summer. Rather than be overwhelmed by the hot days, following my oscillating fan in slow, lazy, circles, I want to embrace the sun, don a floppy hat, and dig my fingers in the dirt.

I love flowers, and some of my best memories are being sent out to my mom’s garden to cut blooms and greens and create a centerpiece for a party. But more than my love of beautiful foliage, I love to eat. And I haven’t missed my window to grub from my own garden: July is actually a great time to plant many vegetables in all different climates.

Here in L.A., I’m currently without yard or garden, so I’m looking at window boxes and pots for my front stoop. My southern California list includes basil, cilantro, corn, cucumbers, dill, peppers (transplants), summer squash, tomatoes (transplants), and winter squash. All that sounds like a delicious salad foraged from your own garden! (If you live in a different climate, check out your list, here.)

Factoring in what will grow best in pots, as well as my obsession with red, yellow, and orange peppers (fresh and tossed in salads? Stuffed with rice and herbs? Roasted peppers on the grill? Yes, please!) and the price I pay for them at the market, I’m going to start with them.

Homegrown Peppers (yep, there’s a site dedicated JUST to growing peppers at home) notes that your pepper plants will very likely need more frequent watering when being grown in a container, as well as more frequent fertilizing. When to water? When you stick your finger one inch into the soil and it feels dry.

In my search I also discovered Fern’s pepper post on Life on the Balcony. She notes that peppers don’t need much space to flourish, as hers were a bit of an afterthought, and grew like weeds. Her tip? “Once a week I spray their leaves with sea weed extract diluted in water (6 drops in a spray bottle that holds 1 cup of water).  After I spray the leaves I pour the rest of the seaweed-water in the dirt around the pepper plants.” Every three weeks she sprinkled a balanced organic fertilizer in the dirt around the plants.

Check out both sites to learn more about staking, caging, and fertilizing needs.

Peppers like the heat, and need about 8 hours of full sun, so mine will live on my front stoop, where the rising sun beams in my front windows and wakes me at 6am. I’ll try to look at it as my wake-up call to care for my new pepper plants.  Off to the nursery, who’s with me?


Photo courtesy: Auntie Dogma’s Garden Spot, Grow It Organically, and Weekend Homestead