Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

November, 2004
Regional Report

Plant More Winter Veggies

If you haven't yet sown or transplanted your winter veggies, do it now. If you did get some in a month ago, plant another round every three to four weeks through February for continuous harvesting through summer. These include fava beans, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, chard, cilantro (its dried seed is known as coriander), garlic, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce (especially romaine types and small-heading bibb and buttercrunch types, which thrive with only minimal damage from light frosts), mustards, green and bulb onions, parsley (the flat-leaf type is hardier than the curly one), peas, radishes, shallots and spinach (especially the curly-leafed savoy types). While these plants won't grow much till early spring, they'll have well-established root systems ready for the great growth spurt.

Sow Flowers

Flowers to sow or transplant now through February include alyssum, Japanese anemones, baby's breath, bachelor's buttons, bleeding hearts, calendulas, campanulas, candytuft, columbines, coral bells, coreopsis, cyclamen, gazanias, English and Shasta daisies, delphiniums, dianthus, forget-me-nots, foxgloves, gaillardia, hollyhocks, larkspur, linaria, lunaria, lupines, penstemons, phlox, California and Iceland and Shirley poppies, primroses, rudbeckias, snapdragons, stocks, sweet peas, violas, and regionally adapted wildflowers.

Plant Spring-Blooming Bulbs

Nurseries still have a good choice of spring-blooming bulbs. Tulips are strikingly beautiful, but consider them a one-time flash in our climate. Sometimes I get a second or third year from hyacinths and crocuses, but only when they've been planted where it's shady and dry all summer long. Freesias frequently rebloom, especially the species type that are creamy, smaller, and extremely fragrant. Paper white narcissus always replay all winter long, with the first ones blooming now! Another shady-in-summer success is the ordinary yellow daffodil.

Avoid Digging in Wet Soil

Work the soil or walk in planting beds only when the soil has drained enough. Scoop up a clump of soil and then try to crumble it. If it stays a clump, it\'s still too wet, so test it again in a week. If you must walk in the beds, lay down a board first to distribute your weight over a larger area. The last thing you want to do is squeeze out all the air and compress the soil into an adobe brick!

Feed the Soil

Dig in manure and compost. These will break down over the winter, and nutrients will be available for immediate use when seeds are sown and transplants begin to grow vigorously in the spring. Another approach is to lay down manure now but wait until spring to dig it into the soil; until then, the rains will percolate through the manure and provide \"manure tea\" to enrich the soil underneath.

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