Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

March, 2011
Regional Report

Plant Lots of Lettuce!

For an attractive array of lettuce flavors, textures, and colors, choose from as many varieties as you can find -- dark greens, light greens, reds, and bronzes; butterhead, looseleaf, romaine, and crisphead. Replant every three weeks for continuous harvests of young, sweet, succulent leaves. Pick just the outer leaves, leaving the innermost ones, and you can be eating all spring and summer from the same plants. Choose varieties that are heat-resistant, bolt-resistant, and less likely to turn bitter when they mature during hot weather.

Start Herbs with Seeds or Purchased Plants

Herbs that come "true" from seed and can either be sown directly into garden beds or started in pots and transplanted include anise, basil, chervil, chives, cilantro (coriander), dill, fennel, parsley, and savory. Start with purchased plants that have been vegetatively propagated for the ones that don't "come true," such as lavender, marjoram, mint, oregano, rosemary, French tarragon, and thyme.

Use Herbs as Landscape Plants

Chives add attractive, spear-like foliage among blooming plants. Rosemary and woolly thyme make attractive, drought-tolerant, trouble-free ground covers.

Prune Roses First by Hand!

Rub off new, unwanted foliage on roses, especially when it points in toward the center of the bush. When the growth is young, this pruning is easy -- just the flick of a fingernail will do the job. And squish those first aphids right on the stems and buds -- use gloves if you're squeamish -- so the "bug juice" wards off future generations.

Mow Lawns Properly

Lawns are growing again. They need their spring feeding and more frequent attention to mowing. Keep the mower engine tuned and the blade sharpened for quick, clean cutting of the grass blades. Ragged edges die back and invite diseases. Mow frequently enough so you cut off no more than one-third of the height of the grass blades at a time. The less you feed your lawn, the less you'll have to mow it.

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