Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

March, 2006
Regional Report

Tool or Gardening Product

Garden Carryall
Use a shallow plastic basket with a handle as a garden carryall for seed packets, pruners, trowels, forks, and other small items. Before each day's initial trip into the garden, replenish the basket with packets of seed appropriate for planting at that time. As an empty spot develops in the garden, plant a few seeds.

Clever Gardening Technique

Get a Head Start on Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potato sets can be started indoors now for planting outside in May. Place small to medium-sized tubers in a container that drains well, and cover them with light, sandy soil or planting mix. Maintain a damp but not soggy moisture and a 70- to 75-degree temperature in bright light. Sprouts will be ready for transplanting in four to six weeks.

An easy way to start sweet potato sprouts, and give yourself an ornamental plant at the same time, is to sprout a tuber in a glass or jar filled halfway with water. Shoots will sprout from the top half, and roots will growo from the bottom half. You may even decide you like the foliage so much, you want to keep it growing as a houseplant, perhaps stringing the vines around a window.

To plant the sweet potato shoots into the garden, carefully pull or cut the 9- to 12-inch shoots from the starter root, retaining attached roots. Plant these 12 inches apart in sandy, well-drained soil. Water them in well with a half strength solution of a balanced fertilizer, and shade them from the hot midday sun for a week.

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Special Report - Garden to Table

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