Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

November, 2009
Regional Report

Harvest More Broccoli

For the greatest yields of broccoli, pinch out the main shoot a month after transplanting. This will force bite-size side shoots for the rest of the growing season. Waiting to cut the main head after it's full-sized will also result in smaller side shoots, but fewer by the end of the season. Best bet is to sow seed of "sprouting broccoli" varieties that will put out only bite-size side shoots but result in the most broccoli by the end of the season -- and they're already bite-sized!

Grow Larger Onions

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 become less and less vigorous as you keep cutting off their edible foliage.

Water As Frost Protection

Protect tender subtropicals such as avocados, young citrus, guavas, and loquats from frost damage by watering them well before winter rains arrive in full force, but do not feed them again until late January.

Rose Preparation for Late Fall

Discontinue watering and feeding roses, and mulch roses with manure and compost. Prune them lightly to remove the 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.

Plant Color Bulbs

Plant the spring-blooming bulbs -- primarily crocuses, hyacinths and tulips -- you've been chilling in the refrigerator for six to eight weeks. Other spring bloomers -- including anemones, daffodils, freesias, narcissus, grape hyacinth, ranunculus, sparaxis -- don't need this pre-chilling. 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.

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