Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
Stop Watering Indoor Cactus
Desert cactus plants that live in pots should be taken off your watering program until February. In their native regions, winter is the dry season. Withholding water now will encourage cactus plants to bloom for you in the spring. Give them one final good soaking, then forget them.
Place damp rolls of newspaper at the base of artichoke plants. Each morning, remove the rolls and place them into a tightly covered container or burn in the fireplace. Earwigs hide in dark, damp places during the daylight hours. They do serious damage to artichokes and are moving in under the cover of darkness to devour your crop. By providing convenient daytime hiding places for these destructive creatures, you can eliminate the problem before the green globes form.
If you have a favorite zinnia, marigold, or tomato in your garden, collect and harvest the seeds now so that you can enjoy the same variety next year. Cut mature flowers or fruit from the plants and store in paper bags until dry. I like to set my collected seeds on top of the water heater. It's dry, warm, and dark -- a perfect environment. Once the flower or fruit is dry, shake the bag and remove the seeds that fall to the bottom. Remove any chaff. Label the seeds with the variety and date, then store in paper (not plastic) bags in a cool, dark location.
Keep the soil under new annual plantings cultivated to prevent weeds from becoming established. Frequent cultivation also incorporates oxygen into rain-soaked soil and prevents soil from becoming compacted. Pansies especially love cultivated soil. And besides, it just looks nice.
Store Tuberous Begonias
If you haven't already done so, dig and store your tuberous begonias. They should be dug from the garden bed with the foliage intact. Wash off any soil that clings to the tubers, then lay the prepared plants in a dry, sunny location, such as under a south-facing eve, until the foliage turns yellow. At that point, remove the foliage from the tuber, dust the collected tubers with sulfur, and store in paper bags or in layers of newspaper in a dark, cool location.