Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
January, 2004
Regional Report

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Transplant strawberries anytime from November through February so they reestablish well before the first spring warmth initiates berries.

Starting the New Year's Seeds

Some seeds will sprout outdoors, given a little time. Vegetables include chard, kale, leeks, bibb and iceberg lettuces, mustards, green and bulb onions, flat-leaf parsley, peas, radishes, and savoy spinach. Flowers include ageratums, alyssum, bachelor's buttons (cornflower), calendulas, candytuft, celosia (cockscomb), columbines, coreopsis, English daisies (bellis), delphiniums, dianthus, forget-me-nots, four-o'clocks, hollyhocks, larkspur, lunaria (honesty, money plant, silver dollar plant), pansies, California and Shirley poppies, salvias, snapdragons, stocks, sweet peas, sweet william, and native wildflowers.

Indoors, in a warm and brightly-lit but not necessarily sunny place, sow more of everything you sowed outdoors. Add these veggies: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbages, chamomile, caraway, cauliflower, chervil, chives, coriander (cilantro), dill, fennel, lettuces, marjoram, mint, oregano, curly-leafed parsley, sage, spinach, tarragon, and thyme. Add these flowers: asters, balsam, cosmos, African daisies (gazania), dianthus, gaillardias, impatiens, lobelia, marigolds, nicotiana, petunias, phlox, statice, verbena, and vincas.

Toward the end of the month, start peppers and tomatoes indoors as a promise to yourself that the sunny, clear-skied warmth of summer truly will come.

Encouraging Sturdy Seedlings
After the seeds germinate, move the containers to a cooler area with as much direct sun as possible for sturdy seedling development. Too much warmth and too little light will result in spindly growth that will not produce well outdoors.

When the seedlings are 1 inch tall, remove the plastic during the warmer daylight hours to begin acclimating them to the coolness, but cover them at night. After a week or two, remove it completely.

Outdoor Protection
For outdoor seedlings, provide protection 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 1/2 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.

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