Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
Plant the Last of the Veggies
This is the last month to get an early start to your spring vegetable garden so the plants have time to put on growth before shutting down for winter. Fava beans make great edibles in spring -- both the tiny young green beans and the big mature white ones. Beets can be sown every month of the year for year-round harvest. Broccoli can be harvested through summer if planted now and then again several times in spring. Chard is a beautiful and nutritious green that comes in many colors. Kale adds texture and is very nutritious. Sow cilantro and parsley every month from now through March for continuous harvesting until the spring heat causes them to bolt. Sow lettuce and leeks now and then start again in February. Place garlic and onions where they can dry out as they mature in June.
Sow Cover Crops
Sow winter cover crops, including fava beans, clovers, peas, annual rye, and vetch, to be turned under in the spring as green manure. When winter's gloom has settled in, it's nice to see something green besides weeds growing, especially when it'll also fertilize the garden in the spring. And you don't have to have a large garden to grow a cover crop -- just consider it a lawn that doesn't need mowing.
Transplant strawberries now so they'll develop sturdy root systems over the winter, ready to burst into lush foliage and heavy fruit set in spring. Dig in lots of manure and compost first to feed roots over the winter and through the summer.
Stop Feeding Roses
Discontinue watering and feeding roses, and mulch plants with manure and compost. Prune them lightly to remove the long, bloomed-out canes, but save hard pruning until January when plants are fully dormant. Severe pruning now will encourage new growth that will freeze with the first frosts, wasting all that plant energy.
Dig in Manure and Compost
Before the soil absorbs too much rain, 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 manure down now but wait until spring to dig it into the soil; in the meantime the rains will percolate through the manure and provide manure tea to enrich the soil underneath.