Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

February, 2004
Regional Report

Local Buzz

Flowering Branches Indoors
For indoor bouquets, cut a few branches of almond, cherry, crab apple, deutzia, forsythia, honeysuckle, peach, pear, plum, pussy willow, quince, redbud, spiraea, weigela, and other spring-blooming deciduous shrubs and trees. Force blooms on these branches by crushing the ends of the stems and placing them in warm (70-80 degree) water in a cool, humid area with moderate light for a week before moving them indoors to bloom. Delay major pruning of these and other spring-blooming shrubs until after they finish blooming, or you'll remove the flower buds that set last fall.

Favorite or New Plant

Parsley
We depend on wide-leaved parsley as a beautiful green in the garden and as a mainstay in the kitchen. At this time of year, it's so lush it just about overruns us, so I cut great swaths of it to simmer for soup stock and to freeze in meal-size portions for quick, vitamin- and mineral-rich soup.

Parsley is easy to start now, while it's cool and the soil is moist. But you'll still have to keep an eye on it for a good three weeks. Like carrots, it's easy to neglect after a week of attention and sprinkling. Persevere and it will surprise you by germinating in another two weeks if the seed bed doesn't dry out.

I sow parsley twice a year to assure a continuous harvest. I do it in the fall to cut all winter long through late spring, when it bolts. Then, in late spring, I sow more before it gets too hot, to be sure to have lots for summer and fall salads.

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