Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

December, 2009
Regional Report

Concentrate Warmth For Best Germination

To help concentrate daytime warmth and increase germination when starting seeds in the garden, cover the bed with clear plastic sheeting. Anchor down the edges with soil or rocks to keep out slugs and others who love the succulent sprouts, and to keep the sheeting from blowing away.

Harvest Greens' Outer Leaves Only

Harvest leaf crops such as lettuce and spinach by removing only the outer leaves. Let the three or four center leaves develop further. 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 Posies

Transplant astilbes, azaleas, bleeding hearts, calendulas, camellias, canterbury bells (campanula, bellflower), cinerarias, columbines (aquilegia), 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.

Keep Plant Roots Moist But Not Soggy

Plant and tree roots are not very efficient in bringing moisture during cold weather, so be sure that they get water but aren't waterlogged.

Houseplants Go Dormant Too!

Don't worry that your houseplants don't seem too perky now --they're going dormant, just like plants outdoors. Plants need this rest, so stop feeding them, and water them less frequently. Also, be sure they're not getting blasted with hot air from a heater vent or fireplace. Plants close to windows may get too much cold air at night, so move them or provide a shield between them and the window. The most comfortable temperature range for indoor plants is 65 to 75 degrees F., with extremes of 60 and 80 degrees.

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