Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

December, 2007
Regional Report

Harvest Winter Lettuce Leaf by Leaf

When you harvest leaf crops such as lettuce and spinach, remove only the outer leaves. Let the three or four tiny center leaves develop further before picking. Thus, the plant continues growing --and you continue harvesting -- throughout the season until spring warmth causes the plant to go to seed. By then, you'll soon be harvesting spring-sown or transplanted greens to supply your salads.

Transplant Perennial Veggies, Berries, Grapes

Now is the best time to transplant globe artichokes, Jerusalem artichokes, asparagus, cane berries, broccoli, cabbages, cauliflower, grapes, horseradish, rhubarb, and strawberries. They'll establish themselves well before it gets really cold, and then be ready to burst forth with spring warmth. If you wait till spring to get them into the garden, it's a race to get the little rootless plants settled in sufficiently before the brunt of heat, and they use up most of their stored energy producing their first crop.

Plan for Color

For instant and long-lasting winter color, transplant astilbes, azaleas, bleeding hearts, calendulas, camellias, canterbury bells cinerarias, columbines, cyclamen, delphiniums, dianthus, forget-me-nots, foxgloves, gaillardias, hollyhocks, lilies-of-the-valley, ornamental cabbage and kale, pansies, peonies, Iceland and Oriental poppies, primroses, snapdragons, stocks, sweet Williams, violas, and violets.

Clean Up Garden Debris

During those end-of-the-year chilly spells, keep warm by cleaning up all garden debris. Compost smaller bits like leaves and small branches. Dispose of larger limbs and diseased plant matter. Leaving debris in the garden provides overwintering sites for pests. Periodically rough up the soil surface to bring up these pests and their egg cases to die of exposure or be food for birds.

Cover the Compost Pile

A tarp or black plastic cover will hold in heat and keep rain from leaching out the valuable nutrients from the compost.

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