Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

January, 2005
Regional Report

Plant Garlic, Onions, and Shallots

Plant garlic cloves, bulb onion sets, and shallots where they will be able to dry out for a month before harvest next summer. When digging to plant these, move the soil as little as possible: remove a full scoopful with a small hand trowel, place the clove/set/bulb in, and gently crumble the soil back on top. Sprinkle just to settle the soil around it.

Make Mini-Greenhouses

Provide frost protection for 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 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.

Renew Strawberry Patch

Use strawberry runners to renew your patch or start a new one. Strawberry plants that are more than three years old have passed their prime and are best replaced. Avoid locating strawberries where eggplants, peppers, potatoes, or tomatoes were growing within the last three years, as they have similar disease problems. Dig in lots of manure and compost before transplanting strawberries right at the soil level, so roots are buried but leaf bases are not.

Prune Roses

Prune established roses even if they have not lost all their leaves. Remove crowded or crossed branches, and open the center of the plant for good light exposure and airflow. Prune branches at a 45-degree angle just above a bud that faces outward, or toward a side that needs filling in. Remove any leaves that have dead or diseased portions, and destroy (don\'t compost) them. Old-fashioned roses with a single bloom cycle in the spring, as well as climbers, should be pruned following that bloom.

Wait to Prune Frosted Foliage

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 that appeared dead are alive and well after all. Plants that have frost damage should not be fertilized till spring growth begins, when more frost is unlikely.


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