Gardening in Ukiah

Updated in 2021

There is a narrow time in which you must plant your garden for the year in Ukiah. The winter is cold but does not snow. The summer is hot, so the spring time is when everything has to go in the ground. If you plant too late the sun and heat will kill everything that sprouts. The summer is over 100 degrees daily for about three months.

Tomatoes
The first year, I put them in pots because the ground was too hard and rocky to grow anything. They died, and when one of them was able to have a fruit, the skin spilt in the heat and ants came and covered them. The second year I got one tomato plant from Home Depot called Compact and planted it. It was terrible, it would not grow or fruit. This year I have planted seeds as follows:

Seeds of Change beef steak tomato seeds
Updated: I found out my poor germination was due to direct sowing. I started them in cells with a humidity dome and a under heat matt and I got 100 percent germination. The seeds are coated with a red plant food. In one case the food stayed on top of the seedling, but later it fell off.

Tomatoe seedling
Seeds of Change Tomatoe seedling three in a row one with plant food attached

Pumpkins
Every year I try pumpkins
They did not work the first year in pots, they got too hot and died.

The soil in Ukiah is all hard clay with many rocks. Plus my soil was extra bad, compared with other people’s soil.

So the first year I could not get the soil good enough to plant in ground,  and there was a lot of weed trees, a huge mess of weeds and it took too much time. I missed the spring planting time.  Year one was a failure.

In my second year in Ukiah, I got some pumpkins to grow, but they were small. I called it a success anyway. The ones in the front lived, the ones in the back died from too much heat and sun. The front yard is a northern exposure, but the back is a southern exposure.

Small Pumpkin
I grew this pumpkin last year. It was very small and it refused to grow larger

This year I am planting Giant Pumpkins (did not get big enough to enter into the Giant Pumpkin Contest.)

I have yet to try corn

Last year I grew sunflowers

I grew the Devils Lettuce the first year and it did ok, but it was too bitter to actually eat, so I composted it. Regular lettuce does not do very well in the heat, but the Devil’s Lettuce is a tough plant.

Growing Peppers

I tried to grow hot and sweet peppers, but it did not really work out. The plants were very weak and they would not hold up the fruits. I have tried peppers many times and I never get them to produce fruits. Later I had good results with a poblano pepper that I bought in a pot from Walmart. I keep it alive during the winter by keeping it inside. The pepper is not an annual. If you keep them more then one year they develop wood at the bottom and become more strong with greater yields then the first year.

Carrots
The carrots I grew in Ukiah, all had a bad taste and were not edible. I learned that carrots that are subjected to cold temperatures will increase in sweetness. Clearly heat makes them more bitter.

Onions
I grew onions both from seeds and from organic store bought onions, but I did not have any success with onions.

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