Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

November, 2000
Regional Report

Sow Winter Vegetables


Now is a good time to sow winter vegetables for an early spring harvest. The list of plants you can sow now is long, but here are the highlights: Sow or transplant beets, cabbage, chives, coriander (cilantro), garlic, kale, leeks, lettuce (especially romaine and small-heading bibb and buttercrunch types, which thrive with only minimal damage from light frosts), mesclun and mustard greens, parsley (the flat-leaf type is hardier than the curly), peas, radishes, and spinaches (especially the curly-leafed savoy types for more frost resistance). While these plants won't grow much till early spring, they'll develop well-established root systems that are ready for a great growth spurt when temperatures warm.

Plant Winter Flowers

Many flowers will blossom in winter or set strong root systems in preparation for growing and blooming next spring. Flowers to sow or transplant now include alyssum, Japanese anemone, baby\'s breath, bachelor\'s button, bleeding heart, calendula, campanula, candytuft, columbine, coreopsis, English and Shasta daisies, delphinium, dianthus, forget-me-not, foxglove, gaillardia, hollyhock, larkspur, linaria, lunaria, lupine, penstemon, phlox, California and Iceland and Shirley poppies, primroses, rudbeckias, snapdragon, stock, sweet peas, violas, and regionally adapted wildflowers.

Sow Onions

You\'ll get larger onion bulbs that won\'t bolt in early spring if you sow seed or transplant seedlings now. Store-bought sets (little baby bulblets about half an inch wide) are often left on display indoors (where it\'s too warm for too long) and frequently bolt during the first spring warmth. If you do purchase onion sets, those that are smaller than a dime are most likely to set bulbs and not bolt early. Plant larger ones to use as green onions through the winter, since they will bolt and set seed instead of bulbing in spring.

Cut Asparagus Ferns

Wait to cut asparagus ferns until they\'ve turned completely brown - generally after a hard frost. By then, they\'ve reabsorbed all their energy back into the crowns for next year\'s edible shoots. Cutting the ferns sooner can cut back on production next year. Trim the fronds at soil level rather than yanking them from the crown to avoid injuring the crowns.

Plant Broccoli

Now is a good time to transplant broccoli. Consider trying some unusual types this year such as \"sprouting\" broccoli for lots of small heads. For brilliant chartreuse, pointed heads that taste milder than regular broccoli, try \'Romanesco\', a cross between broccoli and cauliflower. For the best yields of single-headed varieties, let side shoots grow after harvesting the first big head.

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