In the Garden:
Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
February, 2009
Regional Report

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My gold brugsmania is crazy for spring!

Spring, Lovely Spring

Our daytime temperatures of high 70s and nighttime temperatures of high 40s make for the perfect spring. That record-long burst of 80-degree temperatures really made everything pop. Some of my alstroemerias are blooming along with the early peaches, even ahead of the citrus and nasturtiums. And the brugsmania is going crazy!

I do love announcing all the ingredients that came from the garden when serving each evening's meal -- especially when it's only the meat that we didn't grow! We've been eating lettuce, red and green kale, collards, spinach, and bok choy for weeks, and adding beet thinnings to salads along with the last pimento peppers. Tonight we'll enjoy our first broccoli heads, encouraging the secondary little headlets to develop. I even used some outer celery stalks with parsley in my Mom's potato salad -- with our own potatoes that I'd missed harvesting last fall and are coming up again. This is definitely the garden's cue that it's time to plant potatoes!

The first eating peas, which I sowed during the holidays, are beginning to blossom, and I've put in another set of seeds on one side of the trellises. On the other, less-accessible, side are the foot-tall sweet peas, with cabbages and cauliflowers interspersed 3-feet apart to allow for their full-leaf spread.

In the front side of the bed, between the kale and collard and bok choy plants, which I'd transplanted a foot apart last fall, I've inserted chard plants. Since I harvest all of them each week, like my lettuce, taking only the outer couple of leaves and leaving the 2 innermost tiny leaves, I can plant them more closely and get more harvesting from more plants. And the harvests are all of the "gourmet" size leaves that're so tender and delicious! To say nothing of eating for months off the same plants from the one sowing and transplanting last fall -- instead of sowing and transplanting every several weeks!

We just piled on 5 inches of mulch over the entire garden, planting beds and pathways alike. Rain and overhead irrigation on the fruit trees will keep their foliage clean and hydrated. Soaker hoses under the mulch strung around trees a couple of times from 2 feet away from the trunk to 10 feet away will keep roots always barely moist. More soaker hoses strung under the mulch in planting beds 18 inches apart will keep shallow-rooted vegetables producing nicely. Between deep-rooted tomato plants, I've buried 5-gallon containers, each with a shovelful of manure and another of compost, for nutrient-rich water each time I fill the container that is released to the plant roots a good foot under the soil surface. No evaporation of precious water in my garden!

I'm already collecting healthy tomato transplants of my favorite must-grow varieties as they appear in the nurseries, and have my calendar marked for the March 19-22 Giant Tomato and Pepper Sale, and April 18-19 Green Scene gardening extravaganza at the Cal State Fullerton Arboretum!


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