In the Garden:
Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
January, 2002
Regional Report

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Last year's rose blooming amid sprouts of this year's self-sown California poppies and Shirley poppies.

Winter Planting

The garden is almost at a standstill this month. It's cold, wet, and dormant. We depend on every leaf of lettuce and spinach, every broccoli florette, every kohlrabi and cabbage, every Brussels sprout. We're either glad we'd planted so much in the late summer and fall or regretting that we didn't. We eagerly anticipate the first asparagus spears and the first pods of the overwintering peas.

Aside from transplanting, most outside gardening activity is limited to pruning and spreading soil amendments. Too much digging is not a good idea, especially if your soil is on the clayey side, since the soil still retains a good deal of water. Disturbing it too much will compact it and destroy its tilth.

Vegetables to Sow

Lowlanders, who are enjoying frost-free weather and soil moist from rain, will find that cool-season vegetable and flower seeds will readily sprout outdoors, given a little time. Veggies include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, chard, chives, kale, leeks, lettuces, mustards, green and bulb onions, parsley (the flat-leaved is more flavorful than the curly-leaved), peas, radishes, and spinaches.

Flowers to Plant

Flowers to start outdoors include ageratums, alyssum, bachelor's button (cornflower), calendulas, candytuft, celosia (cockscomb), columbines, coreopsis, English daisy (bellis), delphiniums, dianthus, forget-me-nots, four-o-clocks, hollyhocks, larkspur, lunaria (honesty, money-plant, silver-dollar-plant), pansies, California and Shirley poppies, salvias, snapdragons, stocks, sweet peas, sweet William, and native wildflowers. Indoors, sow more of all of these.

Herbs

Herbs to start include chamomile, caraway, chervil, coriander (cilantro), dill, fennel, marjoram, mint, oregano, sage, tarragon, and thyme. Flowers to add include asters, balsam, cosmos, African daisies (gazania), dianthus, gaillardias, impatiens, lobelia, marigolds, nicotiana, petunias, phlox, statice, verbena, and vincas.

Toward the end of the month, start peppers and tomatoes indoors as a promise to yourself that the sunny, clear-skied warmth of summer truly will come. Hold off on starting eggplant and cucumbers and the rest of the hot-weather crowd, though, since they need a shorter time to get to transplant-size and want the soil and air to be really warm before they go into the garden.


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