In the Garden:
Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
February, 2008
Regional Report

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Peach trees are in bloom, and honeybees and bumblebees are buzzing!

Blooms Aplenty

Glorious mid-February blooms from around the color wheel are a most welcome sight following our wonderful rains. Those rains came down perfectly, with light sprinkles and some downpours interspersed with time for the soil to drain just enough for the next batch. The soil received naturally deep irrigation that plants -- especially trees -- will relish long into the summer. And we didn't have to pay for it!

Usually in my garden, the tiny, purple, pea-like blooms of the hardenbergia vines are finishing up by the time the yellow chasmanthe sends up its trident stalks. Early peaches just begin blooming, and then the red-orange chasmanthe follows at the end of spring. This year, all this exuberant color is at its height right now, perhaps because of the week's mid-70 degrees spurring everything on.

The self-sown nasturtiums are 2 feet high with 4-inch-round leaves in grand sweeps that make the garden look like ocean waves.

I just harvested several purple broccoli heads and look forward to their smaller secondary heads in a month or so. The richly colored heads are reddish purple on top with green stems when growing; and they turn greenish when cooked. Like purple green beans, this color change occurs at the perfect moment of al dente cooking, so this is a good cue for new cooks.

One of my cauliflowers was victim to some sort of stress (certainly not drought!) and has formed only a tiny one-mouthful-size head. This is called "buttoning." It's a physiological occurrence rather than a problem, and it's relatively common with cauliflower, so I don't worry about it.

Somewhere in that nasturtium ocean, I'll have to dive in to find the holes I'd prepared for the bare-root roses still waiting to be planted....


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