Fire Mountain Garden Exchange

October Planting Suggestions by Editor
September 30, 2011, 10:19 am
Filed under: Flowers, Vegetables

As is our custom, we shall use the 1994 Edition of Charles Ledgerwood’s “Reliable Seeds” as our guide to planting.

For October:
(All best plantings are in Caps)


For flower planting in October, November and December, Mr Ledgerwood recommends:

Acroclininum, Alyssum, Aquilegia, Basil, Calendula, Candytuft, Carnation, Centaurea, Clarkia, Delphinium, Dimorphotheca, Escholtzia, Foxglove, Larkspur, Linaria, Linum,
Lupin, Nemesia, Nemophila, Pansy, Phlox, Petunia, Poppies, Primula, Scabiosa, Schizanthus, Stock, Sweet peas, Verbena, Viola, Snap Dragon, Wall flower, wild flowers.


September Plantings by Editor
September 1, 2011, 9:15 pm
Filed under: Flowers, Fruits, Vegetables

As ever, I am using Charles Ledgerwood’s 1994 “Reliable Seeds” pamphlet for my reference.

Best bets are in all caps.
For September:

Bush beans, Beets, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, CARROTS, Corn, CELERY, Cauliflower, Endive, Kale, Kohl rabi, LEEK, Peas, Mustard, Lettuce, Bunching onions, Parsley, Parsnip, Radish, Turnips, Swiss Chard and WINTER ZUCCHINI.

I really suggest beets for the local garden; they grow so well here, the greens are absolutely delicious in salads or steamed like spinach. They are great in quiches. The best part is canning the beets for winter consumption; it’s very easy and very rewarding.

For the flower garden we have:
Calendula, Centaurea, Cineraria, Cosmos, Delphinium, Dimorphotheca, Foxglove, Gypsophila, Hollyhock, Larkspur, Linum,  Lunaria, Nasturtium, Nemesia, Pansy, Phlox, Petunia, Poppies, Primula, Salpiglossis, Snapdragon, Stock, Sweet Peas, , Viola, Verbena and Wildflower.

Please refer to Sunset Western Gardens for plant descriptions and water requirements.

August Plantings by Editor
August 19, 2011, 7:46 pm
Filed under: Flowers, Fruits, Natives, Vegetables

So as is our custom, we refer once again to the 1994 “Reliable Seeds” catalogue from our inspiration Charles Ledgerwood, if this is your first visit to our site, please look back on the previous issues to find out more about Mr. Ledgerwood.

For the month of August he recommends

(Caps indicate best plantings for the month)

BEANS, beets, carrots, CELERY, CORN, CUCUMBER, leek, LIMAS, okra, , NZ spinach, Swiss chard and marrow squashes. You can keep planting bunching onions and radishes of all sorts all summer long to spice up your salads.

This is the time to start staging you garden and growing space to prepare for the September to December planting season, arguably the best time to grow things in SoCal. Look at you lawn and think how much water you put on it and think how much lettuce, arugula and spinach you might be able to grow if you just give up a small part of it. Start preparing extra space for fall crops and watch this blog for the fall planting tips.


On the flower side of the path, this month you can plant:

Centurea, Cineraria, Cosmos, Gypsophilia, Hollyhock, Pansy, Lunaria, Marigold, Nasturtium, Phlox, Salipiglossis, Snapdragon, Stock. Sweet Peas, Verbena, Viola and Zinnia.

Please refer to the last  several year’s August missive for some great suggestions.

June Plantings by Editor
May 31, 2011, 5:16 pm
Filed under: Flowers, Fruits, Vegetables

There is still time to rotate in summer vegetables that can be consumed in August and September.  Our source is as always the “Reliable Seeds 1994” pamphlet by Charles Ledgerwood.

Recommendations for the month of June are:

BEANS, beets, carrots, CANTALOUPE, CORN , CUCUMBER, LIMAS, OKRA, parsley, PEPPERS, PUMPKINS, radishes, N.Z. SPINACH, SQUASH, Swiss chard, tomato, jicama, watermelon, egg plant and sunflower.

Don’t forget to move your plantings around in your garden, change the rows you plant your tomatoes in, even spread vegetables around in your regular landscape. Egg plants are beautiful in bloom and fruiting as is chard.

For the flowers we have:

Asters, Balsam, Candytuft, Carnation, Celosia, Centaurea, Cobaea, Convolvulus, Calliopsis, Cosmos, Cynogiosum, Dianthus, Daisies, Dismorphotheca, Dusty, Miller, Fountain grasses, Gloriosa Daisies, Gourds, Gypsophilia, Helichrysum, Ipomea, Larkspur, Lavendaer, Lunaria, Marigold, Nasturtium, Phlox, Portulaca, Rudbeckia, Salpiglossis, Scabiosa, Salvia, Statice, Tithonia, Sunflowers and Zinnias.

February Rant by Editor
February 5, 2011, 8:19 pm
Filed under: Flowers, Fruits, Natives, Perinnials, Vegetables

We were away from our garden for the month of January, travelling in SE Asia (more on that later), but the results of our fall work paid off. We came home to a garden full of lettuce of multiple varieties. The snow peas are in full fruit and I have straggler beets from my summer crop that I left in the ground to mature. I just boil these as a side dish (I pickle most of my beet crops). I still had a great crop of red and white onions. I have given up on weeding arugula out of the entire garden; I just let it grow in the paths, so I always have some. All in all a good start for a tossed salad.

Our trip to Vietnam and Cambodia was very instructive, a culture shock giving us insights into their history, our history and into a people who have been living off the soil in this area for thousands of years. The markets are an indicator of eating habits of the great majority the Vietnamese and Cambodian people. As much as I love the Vista Farmer’s market, it gets a 1 on a scale of 10 when you compare it to the street markets and the breadth of items available. These are very efficient gardeners, the country has not been corporatized in farming yet (yet!!!!) so we are talking about old style farming (Water Buffalo is the tool of choice!!). Everything is fresh every day. Imagine that here!

They transplant all of their seedlings, be it rice or lettuce, which means that they can optimize the space available. They can concentrate fertilizer and water on small areas to produce a tremendous amount of plants. Judging by what I saw, I would estimate that we are underutilizing our dedicated veggie garden space by a minimum of 50%! I am going to do this on my next crop of lettuce. The pictures I have here are obviously small commercial operations, but by the looks of it one 4’ x 4’ plot of lettuce could supply most of the neighborhood.

This is a last chance to spray Volck Oil on your fruit trees before they leaf out; I would recommend you get right on it. Every year that I have sprayed my 40 year old nectarine and other stone fruits, the results have been much more rewarding than years I just got lazy and didn’t spray.

One last aside, I remember when I was a kid in the ‘50s growing up in Oakland, my parents subscribed to Sunset Magazine. It was what was cool in Cal at the time. I started subscribing when we bought our first house, which was a mistake, because Kristine could always find something for me to do! Unfortunately, the magazine went into a decline. We received a promo offer last year, so I agreed to try it for $10 a year. It’s a little light and fluffy, but they have come back to presenting some good gardening tips. It seems to be worthwhile checking out.

January Plantings by Editor
January 3, 2011, 8:56 pm
Filed under: Flowers, Fruits, Vegetables


This is the time to start cleaning up your gardens and maybe to start to consider how you might change your plantings and water usage to cope with the possibility of less water. We have been removing about 10% of our lawns each year for the past two years, replacing the lawn with succulents and cacti. We mulch with the wood chips available almost for free at El Corazon.

Let’s not forget we have to eat, so think about planting the following (as ever the recommendations come from Charles Ledgerwood’s “Reliable Seeds”):
Caps denote best plants for this month

My snow peas, lettuce, beets and radishes really liked the rain last month. I finally gave up on the “winter” tomatoes, they set but never ripened. I am sure the hot spells followed by cold snaps didn’t help.

For flower planting, Mr. Ledgerwood recommended acroclinum, alyssum, aquilegia, calendula, candytuft, centaurea, clarkia, cobaea, calliopsis, delphinium, dianthus, dusty miller, escholtzia, fountain grass, godetia, larkspur, linaria,,lupin, nemesia, nemophila, poppies, schizanthus, sweet peas, snapdragons, sweet sultan, Sweet William and wildflowers.

Check Sunset Western gardens for descriptions and planting information.
Get to Work!


December Rant by Editor
December 12, 2010, 7:29 pm
Filed under: Flowers, Fruits, Natives, Vegetables

I like to re read my posts from previous years. While the recommended veggies and flowers don’t change, the weather report does. We have had a weird fall for sure this year what with rain followed by moisture sapping Santa Ana’s and then cold just this side of freezing; its tough to be a gardener, let alone a plant.

I am still enjoying lettuce from my July crop, just ate the last cucumber and still have a killer diller crop of white and red onions. The summer cilantro has risen from the dead in a corner of the garden and the oregano and rosemary are great. These last two are mandatory for the winter soups and tomato sauces around here (made with pesto from our basil and frozen tomato sauce made in September and October). We are garnishing our salads with the tomatoes that we dried in the cheapo Ronco fruit dryer as well.

Last month I started lettuce and beets per the method described in last December’s missive. I have starters of both coming out of my ears and they love the cold. For some reason my peas are wimpy, maybe the seeds are too old – which I will try to remedy tomorrow.  I do have one note on the brussel sprouts-I get mine at Trader Joe’s, I know, a thousand Hail Marys, but they are good.

I have an interesting suggestion for a very special treat, passion fruit or purplegranadilla( and These are beautiful vines with dramatic flowers and the most wonderful fruits. We know these grow on Fire Mountain as we have living proof in the yard of friends just off Avocado. Be sure to read both articles and pay attention to the location and the potential size

It’s early to plant but not too early to think about.

Ciao and if you haven’t tried sweet peas, do it, they are beautiful and the aroma is so nice. For me they remind me of the barber shop I went to when I was a kid and the smell of the skin bracer the barbers applied to the “big boys and adults’.

Merry Christmas and please support animal rescue groups this holiday season.