Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

September, 2008
Regional Report

Grow Winter Herbs Indoors

Consider sowing some frost-tender herbs for fresh use indoors all winter long. Seeds can be started either indoors or outdoors now, but they must be moved indoors by next month. This will allow them to acclimate to the warmer and drier indoor conditions before it's too cold outdoors. Quite a few herbs make attractive edible houseplants, including both dark green and dark opal basil, chervil, chives, dill, mint, oregano, parsley (the flat-leaf type is hardier and more flavorful), rosemary, summer savory, sweet marjoram, and thyme. Sow the seeds thickly to guarantee good germination, as plants will grow slowly over the winter, and consequently less foliage will be available for recipes.

Get Veggies Growing!

Vegetable plants that have developed deep root systems and mature leaves are more tolerant to the cold. When these plants are 3 or 4 inches in size before the first hard frost, they're mature enough to be harvested throughout the fall, winter, and early spring. These will bolt at the first real warmth of early spring, though, so they can't be counted on to provide a crop after that. But by then you'll have made the first spring plantings, so the gap between harvests won't be too long.

Sow Edible Cover Crops

When sowing cover crops for the fall and winter, consider edible ones. Kale and rocket (roquette, arugula) are full-flavored leafy vegetables that withstand freezing. Both germinate in cool weather and are welcome fresh greens for stir-fries and soups all winter long. In the spring, they can be easily turned under as "green manure" when preparing the soil for the main spring and summer crops.

Trim Flowers for More Color

Prolong blooming on tuberous begonias, dahlias, and fuchsias by pinching off faded flowers. Water them frequently while the weather is still hot, and then feed them with a low nitrogen, high phosphorus fertilizer before they begin to go dormant.

Color Up Your Lawn

If you like having blooms in the lawn, these are good for naturalizing, and the ripening foliage following bloom won't interfere with mowing the lawn: chionodoxa, eranthis, muscari, ornithogalum, and puschkinia.


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