Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

December, 2011
Regional Report

Plant Asparagus Crowns at Different Depths

Planting asparagus at different depths will provide a longer harvest. The shallowly planted asparagus will send up its spears early in the season, and the deeper crowns will bear later.

Prune When No Leaves Left

Prune deciduous fruit trees and vines later this month, but only when all of their 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 the coming year's color. Wait till bloom is over to trim them. Also wait to prune outdoor fuchsias until they leaf out and you can see just what frost damage occurred.

Take Care When Transplanting

When transplanting, be careful to not compact the soil, now that it's thoroughly cold and moist. After gently gathering the soil back around the transplant's roots, barely water it in -- just enough to settle the plant. Tamping the soil more than lightly will damage the soil tilth by compression.

Clean up Garden Debris

Clean up all garden debris. Leaving it in the garden provides safe havens for overwintering pests. Compost debris, but be sure to toss any diseased material -- don't add it to the compost pile. Periodically rough up soil surfaces to bring any overwintering insects and their egg cases to the surface where they'll die of exposure.

Mine the Garden for Decorative Treasures

The garden is a treasure trove of possibilities for holiday decorations. Pyracantha berries alternated with popcorn make attractive garlands. Oranges, lemons, or apples sprinkled with cinnamon or cardamom and stuck with whole cloves are delightfully fragrant pomander balls. Rose hips add bright red and orange colors to green wreaths. Herbs can trim yule logs, flavor jelly, give fragrance to clusters of twigs or wreaths and perfume the air in stovetop potpourris. Vines from grapes, honeysuckle, wisteria, willow, or ivy will bend into many usable shapes. Eucalyptus pods, pine cones, acorns, and magnolia leaf clusters provide many shades of brown. Bufford's holly, which grows better here than the traditional variety, gives us stickery-leafed green with red berries. And don't forget the mistletoe.

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