In the Garden:
Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
For some frost protection, use milk and water jugs anchored by stakes so they don't blow away. Milk cartons cut in half protect lettuce from munching pests.
Resolution Time in the Garden
My annual garden resolutions are easy for me to keep, since they're borne of my previous year's garden experiences. I hope these will help you determine your own!
1. Keep a checklist of monthly garden tasks that need doing.*
2. Keep a calendar for notes of what gardening tasks you've completed. I started doing this when I couldn't choose between several too-beautiful-to-reject choices at our local bookstore. Each Sunday evening, I jot down what I've done that weekend or the previous week -- seeds I've sown, transplants I've added, harvest quantities, pruning and trimming tasks, when plants germinated or blossomed or set first fruit, etc. When I look back several months later, I can see some patterns that I can use to adjust future activities.
3. Keep track of extreme weather occurrences -- rain, cold, heat, wind, sun, gloom. These will indicate environmental contributions to some successes and failures, or at least timings of blossoming and fruiting.
4. Keep a pad and pencil on your garden workbench for updating your garden shopping list as soon as you come in from the garden.
5. Keep a notebook, file, or box with separate entries including seed packets, planting dates, weeding and watering needs, progress of growth, performance, and harvest information -- how much for how long, and the taste. When choosing seed for next year's garden, this information will support an original choice or indicate the need for a change. This is especially important for crops that you may grow many varieties -- like I do for tomatoes (some 10 must-grows and 10 new ones each year) and lettuce (5 must-grows and 5 new ones).
6. Make a diagram of your garden, including the changing seasonal patterns of direct sun and shade. What you plant where and when over several years' time will indicate where to concentrate or avoid certain crops, and give you ideas of what marginal areas for one crop might be perfect for another.
*I've outlined gardening tasks for our area, in my "Garden Basics" set of articles under "Garden Tips for Los Angeles County" on our Web site, http://celosangeles.ucdavis.edu/Common_Ground_Garden_Program. This "to do" list will keep you apprised of what you need to get going in your garden.
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