Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
Planting Cole Crops
When you plant cole crops, bury the stems up to the first set of leaves to encourage them to develop into sturdy plants.
Make Dried Herb Wreaths
Harvest herbs for making wreaths or vinegars as holiday presents. Herb wreaths are easy to make and can include whatever herbs are most used by your recipient. Good choices include basil, oregano, marjoram, anise, parsley, thyme, sage, dill, and tarragon.
Use a spade or sharp knife to separate the large clumps of well-established perennials that are blooming less. Gently pull apart individual plants after loosening the clump from its surrounding soil. Discard the old, unproductive sections. Trim the foliage of young growth to 4 to 6 inches. Dig in compost, replant, and water in well.
Harvest winter squash, pumpkins, and decorative gourds when the vines are dry and the rinds are hard and resist easy puncture by a fingernail. Cut the stems rather than breaking or tearing them, and leave 2 inches of stem attached to the squash to lessen the chance of spoilage. Gourds will dry quicker if you drill a small hole at each end. Let them cure in a dry, well-ventilated area at room temperature for two weeks. Store cured squash at 50 to 60 degrees in a dry area. Check them weekly for mold. If any appears, wipe it off with a paper towel moistened with vinegar. Squash should keep up to six months.
Make Toasty Pumpkin Seeds
Toast -- don't toss -- your pumpkin seeds when you carve your jack-o'-lantern. Separate the seeds from the stringy pulp by washing the seeds well. Spread them on a cookie sheet and sprinkle lightly with salt if desired. Toast them for 3 or 4 minutes at 375 degrees, stir, and toast another 2 or 3 minutes until they're evenly golden. Cool them to room temperature, and enjoy!