Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

December, 2010
Regional Report

Harvest Leaf By Leaf

Harvest leafy 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.

Wait Till Asparagus Ferns Are Dead

Wait to cut asparagus ferns until they've turned completely brown, generally after the first hard frost. By then, they've reabsorbed all their energy back into the crowns for next year's edible shoots. Cutting them sooner means throwing away this recycled nutrition. Trim the fronds at soil level rather than yanking them from the crown to avoid injuring the crowns.

Prune After Leaves Drop

Prune fruit trees and vines later this month, but only when all of the leaves have fallen. This indicates that the plants are fully dormant, and pruning will not damage living tissue. Don't clip spring-blooming shrubs, however, or you'll remove this coming year's color-- wait till bloom is over. Also wait to prune outdoor fuchsias until they leaf out and you can see just what frost damage occurred.

Give Mums and Fuchsias a Trim

After chrysanthemums finish blooming, cut their stems to about three inches from the soil. Trim fuchsias only to shape them, but wait to thoroughly prune them until late spring, after the plants have leafed out. Root the hardwood portions of these and geranium cuttings in a protected outdoor area for more plants.

Unperky Houseplants?

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 many indoor plants is 65-75 degrees, with extremes of 60 and 80 degrees.

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Special Report - Garden to Table

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