Monday, March 16, 2015

How Changing Weather Is Affecting Southern California Vegetable Gardens

I have lived in southern California my entire life and I have always been a student of weather. One thing is for sure, it seems the weather here is changing. Honestly, it is as if we have been warmer and drier in winters in southern California than in Arizona and as hot but more humid in the summers.

I have struggled with my garden the last few growing seasons. Three years in a row we have had an unusually hot and humid summer. Is this the new normal for us gardeners here in Southern California? That I am not, sure but I have decided to follow the Arizona planting schedule this year to see if not only can I combat the heat that seems to stifle my vegetable garden, but to also try and have two growing seasons here for summer produce.

How Changing Weather Is Affecting Southern California Vegetable Gardens

First, I started most of my seeds in January. I normally plant tomatoes in March but this year they were in by the end of January/early February. It is now March 16th and I already have one inch sized tomatoes on the vines. The earliest I have ever had for sure.

early tomatoes, How Changing Weather Is Affecting Southern California Vegetable Gardens

We used to have occasional light frosts but we have not had one in my area for at least three years.
Evenings are warmer and blossoms are setting, so the plants all seem to be thriving. I am hoping to harvest earlier:
summer squash ( four varieties)

Then I intend to start seeds in late spring/early summer for a second growing season. I will plant a second cycle of the above plants that I had only planted once in years past. We have had intensely hot late summers for three years and that is really caused the garden to suffer. By planting and harvesting early, I will keep plants that tolerate the heat but remove others that are spent. Pumpkins and winter squash will take over for mid summer and then I will clean space to start new smaller plants of normal summer vegetables.

Pumpkins will fill the garden mid-summer and as they finish up I will rip them out to make room for the second summer planting season. So this is the plan. I will report how it goes. So far the garden is doing great and we are on track to harvest earlier than ever.


  1. I 'm in the other side of the world and my garden shows signs of changing weather too.

  2. There was a big article in our paper today about how the climate was affecting California gardens. Kinda scary!


  3. And we had snow last week! I'm just beginning to get the leaves cleaned out.

  4. The last 5 summers on the coast (Huntington Beach) have been abnormally cool for us. Are you inland? (Rhetorical question, I'll understand you don't want to tell where you live!)

  5. As gardeners, we must adapt to the whims of weather. Thankfully, you have abundant sunshine, which is key to growing lots of yummy stuff.
    Enjoy your early harvesting!

    I hope you'll share this on The Maple Hill Hop this week!

  6. Elaine, it's scary isn't it? Our lakes are not freezing as fast, or as long, and the geese are coming and going faster. There are so many signs, earlier winters, more snow...hotter summers, dry reserves...


  7. Elaine-
    So interesting that you posted this.
    I have been wondering about the weather changes for our region and the need to change our planting schedule here.
    We've had more snow the last couple-two or three years even! Now...we've had torrents of rain!
    I actually had squishy puddles under my clothes line today! Thank goodness my lines held!
    I haven't started a single seed. I've not worked the soil--YET! I haven't planted a single thing.
    I honestly-- don't know if it's too late now.
    I've talked to the hubby about it-- and he isn't even interested in having a garden-- :/
    I do see the need and I do know the importance of growing our own food-- and I know that it helps in so many ways! One being getting outside and getting fresh air and exercise! The other getting fresh food.
    We're starting to warm-- but the ground is still so wet.
    Your area is so hot and dry-- we've been there too about 5 years ago-- I'll be interested in following your gardening. Seeing the changes and adjustments you are making.
    I truly do hope to get something in the ground soon.
    I know I won't regret it.

  8. You are so right. Our weather is changing for sure! I am way behind on my garden plans since I have been so sick. I hope to get going on it this weekend.
    You are bound to have a beautiful garden and bountiful harvests!
    xo Kris

  9. We are beginning to think that this is the new normal!

    We got too hot on the beach on Saturday and had to go back into the house!

  10. I'm in the Arizona desert. I grow from about the end of January to May, and about the end of September to December. Last December I lost my tomatoes just as they were turning ripe, because we had three nights of freezing temperatures. I covered with the cloths I had, but it was ineffective. I am going to try covering them with plastic later this year, because that's what some gardeners do with seedlings where the weather is colder. I find that we go through this dry period and then we have a big flood. I use raised beds, because the soil is caliche. I think it saves on water use. I cover the plants with shade clothes come late April and May.

  11. I blogged about climate change affecting the West, and I think it will just get worse. I'm glad I don't live there, as water may become a really huge issue... Nancy@LittlehomesteadinBoise