Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

January, 2009
Regional Report

Let Lawns Breathe

Lawns -- especially frosty or soggy ones -- need to breathe, so keep leaves and litter raked up, and walk on them as little as possible.

Soil Amendments Melt Into the Soil

Soil amendments applied to the soil surface now will decay over the winter, and their nutrients will wash into the soil gradually with each rain. Which amendments your soil needs can be determined best by a soil test. At the very least, all soils can benefit from nutrient-rich compost and mulch. Healthy plant root growth and overall plant vigor depends on a moist and loose soil.

Rose Transplanting

When transplanting roses, add humus and potash, but be spare with nitrogen fertilizers, as these hasten new foliage which may be damaged by late frosts.

Plant Grapes and Berries

Plant grapes, berry vines, and strawberries from now through March. Tips from last year's berry canes should be well-rooted. Cut off the vine above the third node from the rooted tip. Use a slant cut at the top and a straight cut at the bottom so you'll know which end is which when you transplant it.

Frost Protection: Mini-Greenhouses

Provide further protection of seedlings with mini-greenhouses made from clear plastic milk or water jugs with their caps removed and their bottoms cut off. Place the jugs over the seedlings after the bed or tray has been watered well. Press the jugs about one-half inch deep into the soil to prevent the entry of pests such as cutworms at the soil level and to lessen the chance of the jug being blown away during windy gusts. Remove the jugs when the foliage begins to crowd the jug, or when night temperatures are above 50 degrees.

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