Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

December, 2012
Regional Report

Sow and Transplant Veggies

Plants will grow very slowly in this seasons lower light, so sow or transplant three or four times the amount of vegetable seeds and seedlings you would in the spring. Include chard; kale; leeks; bibb, buttercrunch, and romaine lettuces; mustard; green and bulbing onions; flat-leaf parsley; peas; radishes; and savoy-leafed spinach.

Care for a Live Christmas Tree Properly

If you plan to enjoy a live Christmas tree indoors and then plant it outdoors, choose as small a tree as you can since it will more successfully readapt to the outdoors. When you bring the tree home, water it well and store it in a shaded outdoor area or an unheated garage to help it acclimate to darker indoor conditions. Keep the rootball moist and the branches misted every couple of days. Choose an indoor location that is away from heating vents or fireplaces, and limit the time indoors to a maximum of seven days; fewer if the house is very warm. Water the root ball directly or by scattering ice cubes around the soil surface to slowly seep down into the entire root ball. When moving the tree outside again, place it in that shaded outdoor area or unheated garage for at least a week, and then let it sit outside for several more days in its container on top of the soil where you plant to plant it. The longer you enjoy the tree inside a warm house, the longer it will need to readapt to outdoor conditions before planting.

Keep Houseplants Happy in Winter

Don't worry if your houseplants don't seem too perky now -- many are 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 65-75 degrees, with extremes of 60 and 80 degrees.

Water Less Frequently but Just As Deeply

Continue to water your overwintering outdoor plants unless rains keep the soil moist. Irrigation should be reduced but not stopped, as plant photosynthesis slows down and cold weather dries plants out. Plants that are stressed lack of irrigation are more susceptible to frost damage.

Make an End-of- the-Season Garden Assessment

Make notes on last year's garden while your memory is still fresh. Your initial choices, impressions, and the results of this year's garden will provide a good starting point for next year's choices.

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