Why is Helix Water District promoting vegetable gardening? Because growing your own food is a good use of water and one more step on the path to sustainability. And, technically, most of the vegetables and herbs that grow here in San Diego are moderate water use plants, which means they need less water than the average lawn. Here are six reasons to plant a vegetable garden right now.

Reason #1
According to the San Diego County Master Gardeners, the time to plant warm season vegetables in our region is April to June. It’s May and it’s time to plant!

Reason #2
We’ll show you how.

What to Plant
This Vegetable Planting Guide was developed by the University of California and San Diego County and is featured on the San Diego County Master Gardeners website. The guide says that if you live inland — Lemon Grove, Spring Valley, La Mesa or El Cajon — plant these vegetables in spring: beans, sweet corn, cucumbers, eggplant, melons, okra, peppers, squash, sweet potatoes and tomatoes. Now is also the time to plant basil — yes, basil = pesto!

How to Improve Your Soil
Add compost, worm castings or manure to your soil before you plant — they add the organic nutrients that plants need. They are available by the bag at local nurseries. Empty a bag or two on to your soil and mix it in with a shovel.

How to Water
It’s easy and relaxing to hand-water a small vegetable garden with a hose (and a positive shut-off nozzle) or a watering can. Or you can install a drip irrigation system. These videos show you how to assemble the tubing and emitters and connect the system to a hose bib.


Reason #3
Our climate here in San Diego County allows year-round gardening. The Vegetable Planting Guide on the San Diego County Master Gardeners website recommends planting cool season vegetables in the fall: arugula, beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, chard, endive, kale, lettuce, onions, peas, spinach and turnips. Fall is also the time to plant cilantro!

Reason #4
You don’t need your own yard. You can grow vegetables and herbs in pots on a balcony or you can find an open spot in a community garden for free or for rent. The San Diego County Master Gardeners have a list of community gardens on their website. There’s one on Spring Drive in Spring Valley and four in El Cajon. The list includes who to contact for each garden and their contact information.

Reason #5
If you don’t grow your own vegetables then you don’t know how good vegetables taste! My wife and I rent a raised bed in a small community garden and our first planting last November was cool season vegetables. All winter long we ate amazing salads with arugula that tasted nutty and spicy, fresh kale and snow peas. In April, we planted our first warm season vegetables: tomatoes, cucumbers and zucchini.

Reason #6
This is an opportunity to eat better, feel better, and even to go organic. Avoid using any non-organic soil amendments, fertilizers or pesticides and your soil and plants are organic!  And enjoying the intense flavors of food that you grew yourself is truly satisfying. Give it a try.