Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

November, 2001
Regional Report

Wait for Asparagus Foliage to Dry before Cutting


Wait to cut asparagus foliage until it has turned completely brown, generally after the first hard frost. By then, they've reabsorbed all their energy back into the crowns for next year's edible shoots. Cutting them sooner means throwing away this recycled nutrition. Trim the fronds at soil level rather than yanking them from the crown to avoid injuring the crowns.

Plant Garlic


Garlic planted now will develop a strong root system over the winter. Leaf production will begin early in spring, resulting in a large head next summer. The sooner you plant the cloves in rich, well-drained soil, the larger the bulbs will be at harvest. Planting in spring will produce only medium- or small-sized cloves, or a single bulb without cloves. Don't give up on the small bulbs, though. They can be used in place of a single large clove in recipes.

Winter Compost Care


Continue replenishing your compost pile by adding non-greasy kitchen scraps and grass clippings, plant foliage, and dry matter in thin layers with soil. Chop up bulky items to help them break down faster. Keep the pile moist but not waterlogged and loosen or turn it every other week or so to aerate it. When rains begin, cover the pile loosely to prevent its getting too waterlogged and leaching out its rich nitrogen.

Reduce Winter Watering


Help overwintering plants harden off by changing your irrigation schedule. Cooler weather slows evaporation from the soil and transpiration from plant foliage, so irrigation is needed less often. Decrease the number of times, but not the length of time, you water. For example, water once every 2 weeks instead of once a week, but continue to water for half an hour each time. This change will still provide water to deep roots while allowing the soil to dry between waterings.

Lightly Prune Roses


Prune roses lightly to shorten long, bloomed-out canes, but save hard pruning until January, when plants are fully dormant. Severe pruning now will encourage new growth, which will freeze with the first frosts, wasting all that plant energy. Feed roses with a high-phosphorus and high-potassium fertilizer to help them harden off. Mulch roses with manure and compost.

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