Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

November, 2010
Regional Report

Green Manure

Sow winter cover crops, including fava beans, clovers, peas, annual rye and vetch to be turned under in the spring as "green manure." When winter's gloom has settled in, it's nice to see something green besides weeds growing, especially when it'll also fertilize the garden in the spring. And you don't have to have a large garden to grow a cover crop- just consider it a lawn that doesn't need mowing.

More Broccoli Per Plant

For the greatest yields of broccoli, pinch out the main shoot a month after transplanting. This will force several large side shoots. Waiting to cut the main head after it's full-size will result in more but smaller side shoots. Or seed "sprouting" broccoli varieties for many small shoots.

Staking for Winds

Anchor stakes and ties to young trees and shrubs to stabilize them against winter winds, but not so tightly that the tree can't sway in the breeze. This movement helps the roots grow into strong anchors that firmly establish the tree.

Spring Bulb Color

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 and 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.

Color Before The Bulbs

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.

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