Herb garden in southern California

paulav019February 12, 2006

Hello everyone,

I'd like to grow a culinary/medicinal herb garden this year, but I'm not quite sure on a few things.

When does the last frost date usually occur here in the Antelope Valley (I live in Littlerock)? I was thinking about starting many of my herbs indoors in a week or so (in those bio-degradable peat containers shaped rather like an egg carton, if I can find them), then transplanting outdoors into my raised garden bed when there is no more risk of frost. Is that too early to start them indoors?

Which herbs do particularly well here in the AV? I'm growing the "standard" herbs, like basil, sage, rosemary, and so on, and I'd also like to grow some other ones like arnica, marshmallow, and comfrey, but it would be nice to have an idea of which herbs really thrive out here, too.

Any tips on keeping seedlings alive? In my past attempts, I've had no problems with getting them to germinate, but keeping them alive is another matter entirely. What kind of light do seedlings require once they germinate; do they go immediately into full-on sunlight, do they stay in the shade for a day or so, or something else? I've read to keep them moist and in the sunlight, but with the wind and the heat of the direct sunlight combined, it's practically impossible! Keeping them in a sunny window is a bit tricky too, the sun shifts and during most of the day it shines on the windowless side of the house. Is there some way they can be in the sun outdoors without drying out in a matter of minutes?

Last but not least, which pests are a problem here and how best to control them (preferably organically)?

I'm almost completely new to this, as I'm sure you can tell. ;) Thanks in advance for any pearls of wisdom!

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I have no idea where Antelope valley and what your zone is.
You could probably start them outdoors.... most of the warmer places in California now is a fine time to start them outdoors, where they'd be much happier than indoors without sun.
Remember, most herbs germinate fine without our help outside, nothing fancy done for them at all.
Seedlings probably can't deal with full on sun during the later part of the year, but they'd probably do okay with a good deal of sun this time of the year.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2006 at 10:42AM
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Are you in or near the desert? Do you know your elevation? If so, your choice of herbs may be different as well as your sowing time. If you are in an arid area, mint will probably do OK. Other possible native/introduced medicinals that might work include ephedra, jojoba, dracaena draco and possibly yerba mansa. My guess is you probably have many native medicinals near you, which would make life simpler.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2006 at 11:22PM
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Herbs: I'm in the san diego area and have had success growing a vast number of herbs.

These have all grown well over the past several years:
Lavender, Thyme, Basil (all types), Dill, Cilantro, Sage (all kinds), Chamomille, Oregeno, Rosmary, Catnip, Chives, Scallions, Ginger root, Onions, Spearmint, Peppermint, & Lemon Balm.

(be wary of planting the mints directly into your garden, if they go to seed you'll be finding mint everywhere and anywhere for a long time. I suggest potting mint, and keeping it on a patio/away from an area which it can drop seeds.)

    Bookmark   February 2, 2007 at 5:17PM
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I'm growing some herbs in San Diego on my south porch, where the heat can get pretty intense, so I prefer some shade or my plants will fry. I have been having quite a bit of difficulty growing basil - too much water, too little water - I never seem to get it right. Any suggestions? (A passerby in Home Depot said I should move to Colorado where it grows wild.)

    Bookmark   June 2, 2009 at 2:59PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Basil does quite well in the planted garden, as opposed to in pots. It can get root bound and simply watering it will not offer any good growth unless a bit of a mild fertilizer is used. Overwatering and then drying out is not good either. I use some polymer crystals that soak up water and turn to a gel, where it helps keep moisture for the plants in pots. I start basil in pots, but its transplanted into the garden just about now in my Z6.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2009 at 2:00AM
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lali(z9, Sunset z18, CA)


You can check out the Sunset Climate Zone for CA to find out what zone you're in. I believe most zones are already in the "growing season" with little chance of frost.

I'm in the inland valley region of Southern Calif, so the days are starting to get pretty hot with mild nights. I've had luck growing many herbs in my area, including the ones you listed like basil, sage, rosemary.


    Bookmark   June 3, 2009 at 2:23AM
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