Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

March, 2007
Regional Report

Start Herb Seedlings

Herbs to start from seed include anise, basil, chervil, chives, cilantro (coriander), dill, fennel, lavender, marjoram, oregano, parsley, and savory. Transplant mint, rosemary, sage, tarragon, and thyme --these don't come "true" from seed. Herbs make great landscaping plants, as well. Chives add bright green, spear-like foliage among blooming plants. Rosemary and wooly thyme make attractive, drought-tolerant, trouble-free ground covers.

Lettuce Bouquets

For an attractive array of lettuce flavors, textures, and colors, choose varieties from as many as you can find -- dark greens, light greens, reds, bronzes; butterhead, looseleaf, romaine, and crisphead. Replant every three weeks for continuous harvests of young, sweet, succulent leaves and heads. Choose varieties that are heat-resistant, bolt-resistant, and less likely to turn bitter when they mature during hot weather.

Handle Seedlings Gently

Be gentle with all seedlings: Handle the little plants by their root clumps or leaves rather than stems, and never squeeze them tightly. They will grow new leaves and roots, but can't develop new stems.

Don't Overfertilize Fruit Trees

Don't try to rush growth of nectarines, peaches, or plums by providing too much nitrogen. This contributes to generally poor fruit quality -- poor color development, delayed maturity, softness, and reduced storageability. Too much vegetative growth from excessive nitrogen can also result in poor fruit set for the following year. If the trees have good growth with dark green leaves in the spring, they have sufficient nitrogen.

Bulbs for Summer Color

Plant summer-blooming bulbs, corms, and tubers -- including acidanthera, agapanthus, tuberous begonias, caladiums, calla lilies, canna lilies, dahlias, gladiolus, hemerocallis, tuberous iris, ixias, tigridias, tuberoses, and watsonias. Repeat plantings through May for continuous bloom through the summer. If you still have some unplanted spring-blooming bulbs that are firm and solid, plant them immediately in rich soil. They'll probably not bloom this year, but they'll develop further and bloom next year. If not planted, they'll shrivel away to nothing. These leftover bulbs can also be potted up for forcing. Place them in the refrigerator for eight to ten weeks, keeping the soil moist but not soggy. They should bloom after another three weeks in a brightly lit area.

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