Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

December, 2005
Regional Report

Growing Winter Veggies

Fresh-picked chard, kale, lettuce, spinach, leeks, parsley, peas, radishes, and other greens are delicious, nutritious, and far less expensive than what's available at the supermarket. They're worth starting from seed or transplants now, if only for their flavor and texture added to storebought basics. Besides, it's wonderful to have something bright green growing in the garden all winter ... besides weeds.

Move Transplants into the Garden

Transplant globe artichokes, jerusalem artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, horseradish, and rhubarb; also cane berries, grapes, and strawberries. But, do so only when the soil is not waterlogged; if it crumbles after squeezing a fistful, it's ok; if it squishes or stays in a lump, it's too wet.

Water Sparingly

Plant roots are not very efficient at bringing in moisture during cold weather, so be sure they get enough water but not too much, or the soil will be waterlogged.

Prune for Holiday Decorations

Prune conifers and broad-leaved evergreens to shape them, lessen chances of wind damage, and provide trimmings for holiday decorations. Branches that hold their shape well indoors include incense cedar, fir, laurel, magnolia, oleander, pine, pittosporum, podocarpus, and viburnum. The red berries from cotoneaster, nandina, and pyracantha always serve as a bright accent.

Adjust Water and Fertilizer for Houseplants

Don't worry that your houseplants don't seem too perky now; they're going dormant, just like plants outdoors. Plants need this rest, so stop feeding them and water less frequently. Also, be sure they're not getting blasted with hot air from a heater vent or fireplace. Plants close to windows may get too much cold air at night, so move them or provide a shield between them and the window. The most comfortable temperature range for indoor plants is 65 to 75 degrees F, with extremes of 60 and 80 degrees.

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