Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

January, 2004
Regional Report

Plant Winter Vegetables

Transplant cole crops up to their first set of leaves to prevent their maturing into weak, leggy, less-productive plants. Set artichoke roots with buds or shoots just above the soil line, spaced 6 inches apart. Water them in. When new growth emerges, deeply soak the area once a week. Plant rhubarb in partial shade, with the single bud of a rhizome at the soil line. The wide spread of its mature leaves requires 4 feet between plants. Water deeply once new growth begins.

Go Easy on the Digging

Don't do too much digging, now that the soil is thoroughly cold and moist. Dig and replace the soil gently, and water in the transplant just enough to settle the roots. Don't stomp it with your hand or foot. Tamping the soil more than lightly will damage the soil tilth by compression.

Spray Dormant Oil

This month is a good time to spray dormant oil on fruit trees, especially if it was not done last month or if it rained within two days of that application. The point is to have the sprayed material on the tree throughout the dormant season, and especially at specific pest growth periods.

Moving Poinsettias Outside

Acclimating holiday poinsettias to the cold outdoors before planting them into the garden is easy. First, clip long branches down to the third node to encourage bushier growth. Then place the plant in a sunny spot outdoors that's protected from wind for several hours each day, and in a cool spot indoors at night. Keep soil moist, and feed it a slow-release or quarter-strength regular fertilizer every week or so. After a week or two, plants should survive a full day outdoors in the protected spot. After another month, they can be successfully transplanted into the garden.

Let Lawns Breathe

Lawns -- especially frosty or soggy ones -- need to breathe, so keep leaves and litter raked up, and walk on them as little as possible. If you have to tread on the grass frequently, lay down some boards as a temporary walkway.

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