Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

September, 2000
Regional Report

Plant Sweet Peas

It\'s sweet pea planting time. For very fragrant sweet peas, try some old-fashioned varieties such as \'American\', \'Cupani\'s Original\', and \'Painted Lady\'. Although modern varieties tend to have a weaker fragrance, breeders are working on better-smelling varieties such as \'Royal Wedding\' and \'Snoopea\'. Plant sweet peas in well-drained soil with a trellis for them to climb on.

Growing Herbs Indoors

Many herbs - such as dark green and dark opal basil, chervil, chives, dill, mint, oregano, parsley (again, the flat-leaf type is hardier and also more flavorful), rosemary, summer savory, sweet marjoram, and thyme - grow well as houseplants in winter. Sow the seeds thickly to guarantee good germination, and plant more than you need, since plants will grow slowly over the winter, and, consequently, less foliage will be available for recipes.

Start Lettuce Seeds

Time to seed lettuce transplants. Plants that have developed deep root systems and mature leaves are more tolerant to the cold. Plants started now can withstand frost and be harvested throughout the fall, winter, and early spring. These plants will bolt at the first real warmth of early spring, though, and you\'ll need a new planting.

Last Citrus Feeding

Feed citrus for the last time this year, and water trees less as the weather cools and the rains begin. Cupped, wilted, or falling citrus leaves signal moisture stress from hot winds, which can occur even when the soil is damp. Provide lath, shade cloth, or other semi-open material for protection. Pale green new citrus leaves may need a dose of liquid chelated iron or a solution of fish emulsion and kelp.

Bring Houseplants Indoors

Bring in houseplants from their summer stay outdoors after removing dead leaves and branches and thoroughly checking them for pests. This is also a good time to repot them in fresh potting mix. Toss the old mix out into the garden or onto the compost pile. Keep plants in a bright area indoors for three weeks to let them gradually get used to the darker, warmer, and drier indoor conditions. Then move them to their winter homes - but away from drafts and heaters.

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