Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

October, 2005
Regional Report

Roasting Pumpkin Seeds

When you carve your jack-o'-lantern, save the tasty seed treats. 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 F, stir, and toast another 2 or 3 minutes until they're evenly golden. Cool them to room temperature, and enjoy!

Turning Herbs into Fragrant Gifts

Harvest herbs for making wreaths or vinegars for holiday presents. Herb wreaths are easy to make and can include whatever herbs are most used by your recipient. Good choices include anise, basil, dill, marjoram, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, tarragon, and thyme.

Water Grapes and Trees Deeply

Water and fertilize plants to make them more cold hardy. Give one last deep watering to grapevines and deciduous trees, and feed all overwintering plants with a no-nitrogen, high-phosphorus, high-potassium fertilizer.

Divide Perennials

Divide and replant perennials and bulbs, especially if they're crowded and didn't bloom well this year. Use a spade or sharp knife to separate the large clumps, or 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 or 6 inches. Dig in compost, replant, and water in well. Some perennials that benefit from division are acanthus, agapanthus, Japanese anemone, astilbe, bergenia, bleeding hearts, calendulas, evergreen candytuft, columbines, coralbells, coreopsis, michaelmas and Shasta daisies, daylilies, delphiniums, dianthus, dusty miller, foxgloves, heliopsis, hellebores, hollyhocks, bearded iris, peonies, phlox, Oriental poppies, primroses, gloriosa daisies, coneflowers, echinacea, monarch daisies, black-eyed-Susans, statice, stocks, stokesia, veronica, and yarrow.

Plant Flowers to Accompany Bulbs

For a cover crop of flowers before, during, and after spring bulb bloom, sow seeds or plant seedlings of low-growing annual bloomers after you've planted the bulbs. Think of color contrasts, such as purple pansies with yellow daffodils, or white alyssum with red tulips. Good choices include calendulas, pansies, Iceland poppies, primroses, dwarf snapdragons, dwarf stocks, and violas. Sow seed thickly, water the area, mulch it lightly, and keep it moist until seedlings have two sets of true leaves.

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