In the Garden:
Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
February, 2010
Regional Report

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Hardenbergia's bright lilac is a late winter delight!

Last of Winter and First of Spring

Our gardens are on the upswing with lengthening days, rain-soaked soil, and nary a chill-damaged leaf.

We've been thoroughly enjoying 7 kinds of lettuce, 5 kinds of kale, baby bok choy, celery, peas, peppers, and beets -- harvested when they're an inch and a quarter in diameter, with greens added to raw salads and stir-fries. The only green I haven't enjoyed as much as the others is the mustard, which is so strongly acidic that I've used only a bit since it's such a vigorous grower. Sauteing all the greens with garlic and leek, celery and peppers, and serving over whole wheat pasta with feta and parmesan or romano cheese has been a real winter staple. I love the extra nuttiness provided by the whole wheat pasta!

We finished pruning the boysenberries, tightening the 3 wire levels, attaching the new shoots to the trellises, and tucking new rootings into gaps. It's always a mare's nest of twining that takes lots of untangling to become neat and tidy and ready for side shoots that'll bear blossoms and then fruit. Since I changed plants from my mom's thorny ones to a friend's thornless (after growing some for 3 years to make sure they were just as plentiful and delicious), the task is relatively easily accomplished, even with having to rip out some that revert to their original thorniness.

Nasturtiums have raised the visual level of the garden a good foot with their bright green foliage and first blooms peaking through. This self-sown delight will continue through mid-summer when it'll die back and provide a pleasantly tawny-colored mulch to hold in buried soaker hose irrigation.

Hardenbergia's delicately sized, quarter-inch sweet pea blooms with their lime-green button center are so welcome from mid-January through March, when there's little else in full color.

Of course, the successive fruit tree blooms are hard to beat, especially knowing that delicious fruit will follow!


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