Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

January, 2014
Regional Report

Protect Seedlings from Frost

Provide seedlings with mini-greenhouses made from clear plastic milk or water jugs with their caps removed and their bottoms cut off. Place the jugs over the seedlings after the bed or tray has been watered well. Press the jugs about half an inch deep into the soil to prevent the entry of pests such as cutworms at the soil level, and to lessen the chance of the jug being blown away during windy gusts. Remove the jugs when the foliage begins to crowd the jug, or when night temperatures are above 50 degrees.

Transplant Veggies

Transplant artichoke, asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbages, cauliflower, chard, garlic, kale, leeks, lettuce, green and bulb onions, flat-leaf parsley, radishes, rhubarb, and spinach (savoy varieties withstand light frosts better than flat-leaf ones). Plant cole crops up to the first set of leaves to prevent their maturing into weak, leggy, less-productive plants.

Care for Flowers

Divide and replant perennials, including agapanthus, chrysanthemums, coreopsis, African daisies (Gazania), English daisies (Bellis), gloriosa daisies (Rudbeckia), and Shasta daisies, daylilies (Hemerocallis), delphiniums, dianthus, gaillardia, statice (Limonium), and violets. Older gazanias tend to become unattractive at their centers, but rooting the tip portions will provide many new plants. Also transplant amaryllis, azaleas, camellias, cinerarias, clematis, cyclamens, ornamental cabbage and kale, primroses, Iceland poppies, bareroot roses, violas, and wisteria. Sweet peas don't like to be moved, but they can be successfully transplanted using a minimum of handling and then watering them in with a mild solution of a balanced fertilizer.

Prevent Soil Compaction

When transplanting, be careful to not compact the soil, now that it's thoroughly cold and moist. Dig and replace the soil gently, and barely water in the transplants -- just enough to settle their roots. Do not stomp soil with your hand or foot -- tamping it more than lightly will compress it, damaging its tilth.

Avoid Pruning Frost-Damaged Plants

If plants are damaged by frost, don't remove any of the dead foliage or branches. Plants may look messy, but these damaged portions will protect sensitive growth further inside the plants from later frosts. Wait to start trimming until growth begins in spring -- you may find that branches which appeared dead are alive and well after all. Also, hold off fertilizing plants that have frost damage until spring growth begins.

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