Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

November, 2008
Regional Report

Onion Seed vs. Onion Bulblets

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 temperatures are too warm for too long, and they frequently bolt during the first spring warmth. If you do purchase onion sets, plant the ones that are smaller than a dime for next year's bulbs, and plant the larger ones to use for green onions through the winter, since these will bolt and set seed instead of bulbing in spring.

Transplant Strawberries

Transplant strawberries now so they'll develop sturdy root systems over the winter, ready to burst into lush foliage and heavy fruit set in the spring. Dig in lots of manure and compost first, to feed roots over the winter and through the summer.

Plant Refrigerated Flower Bulbs

Plant the spring-blooming bulbs you've been chilling in the refrigerator for six to eight weeks -- primarily crocuses, hyacinths and tulips. Other spring bloomers -- including anemones, daffodils, freesias, narcissus, grape hyacinth, ranunculus, sparaxis -- don't need this prechilling. For a single spectacular bloom period, plant the same type bulbs at the same depth. For longer lasting color, plant them at several depths over several weeks' time. The shallower ones will bloom first, and the deeper ones later.

Add Color On Top

Plant winter-color annuals above your spring- and summer-blooming bulbs for instant and long-lasting color. Some best bets include calendulas, pansies, Iceland poppies, primroses, and violas. Cyclamen are especially good in fast-draining containers in filtered dappled light. Knee-high sweet peas are wonderful, especially the fragrant ones; but keep blooms picked to encourage continuous bloom.

Fertilize Lawns

Fertilize lawns with slow-release nitrogen for gradual, consistent feeding all winter long. Continue to mow the lawn as long as it still grows to encourage branching of individual grass plants for a thicker, healthier lawn that chokes out weeds. Rake leaves off the lawn to allow air, light, and fertilizer to reach the soil surface.

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