Regional Gardening Guide - Zone 9-10
January 1 to January 31-- Discover what you should be doing right now. Our experts share gardening advice, techniques, news, and ideas to make your garden the best ever.
Here’s what’s happening in your gardening region:
Gardeners in zone nine can expect frost and freezes this month, but if you garden in zone ten you can get away with the risky business of planting warm-season veggies like tomatoes, squash and pole beans… just as long as you have floating row covers and frost blankets ready to go if temperatures take a nosedive. Even if you are lucky enough to test the waters with warm-season edibles, the priority is still planting and enjoying cool-season veggies before it heats up again. Use winter edibles to make a welcoming container combination, or take a walk on the wild side by planting vegetables with unusual colors, flavors and textures.
Your Regional reporter
Steve Asbell is an illustrator, the author of Plant by Numbers and blogger of The Rainforest Garden.
To see what Steve's doing in his garden. Click Here!
1. Plant an edible container combination!
Short on space or time? No problem! Maximize your space by filling a flowerpot with productive and attractive cool season veggies. The trick to packing a lot of plants in a single pot is to include plants that take advantage of space within, around and above the planter. Plant a tall and architectural vegetable such as kale or Swiss chard in the back of the pot to serve as a focal point and take advantage of vertical space. In front of that, plant a mix of shrublike herbs like rosemary, sage or Mexican Tarragon to serve as ‘fillers’. Along the front edge of the pot, include ‘spillers’ like strawberries and thyme. These will dangle over the edge of the pot and further maximize your small space. You can even include warm-season vegetables if you’re willing to bring the pot’s indoors on frosty nights.
2. Jazz up your salad garden
If salad isn’t your idea of an exciting meal, maybe it’s because the ingredients themselves are boring. Even common salad greens like lettuce and spinach can be distinctive if you grow the right varieties, but if you crave more flavor, grow flavorful greens like radicchio, mizuna, arugula and endive alongside your lettuce for easy picking. From lacy leaves to peppery flavors, each has unique qualities to bring out the best in any salad. To add even more substance to your salads, plant a variety of other vegetables that can be harvested at any time. Radishes mature quickly, so plant them every few weeks for a constant supply of sharp and fresh flavor. Peas are always an excellent addition to salads, but try setting aside a patch specifically to continually harvest the tender, delicate shoots. While all edible peas produce tasty shoots, try growing a variety with ornamental leaves like the lacy ‘Masterpiece’ or white-speckled ‘Blue Bantam Dwarf’.
3. Put your herbs to good use
A little goes a long way when it comes to fresh homegrown herbs, but they sometimes leave you with such an abundance that using them all is a challenge. One option is to use your herbs in recipes like the ones on this website, but it often comes down to making the harvest a part of your everyday routine. Even if you aren’t planning to use them, clip herbs whenever you’re in the garden so that you can display them as cut flowers or hang them as fragrant bouquets. Anything you cook can benefit from herbs, recipe or not. Add finely chopped dill to buttery carrots, mix chives into your scrambled eggs and rub thyme and rosemary into poultry and fish before cooking. To bring garden style and hospitality to your gift-wrapping, take a bundle of freshly cut rosemary and tie it together with twine and red ribbon. Even if the recipient of your gift forgets what you put inside the box, they’ll remember the thoughtful (and fragrant) presentation.
4. Plant purple produce
What could be better than homegrown greens? Homegrown purples, of course! Veggies with purple to bronze leaves are attractive enough to grow as accent plants among flowers in ornamental borders, and they bring gourmet flair to even the most common of recipes. Grow purple cabbage, kale, and mustard greens in your garden beds as architectural accent plants, or plant rows in your vegetable beds as dividers between other vegetables. Purple While their beauty alone is reason enough to grow them, purple veggies are more than a novelty. They come jam-packed with anthocyanins, a flavonoid that has numerous health benefits. Besides - by using purple broccoli and cabbage you might even get kids to eat their veggies for a change.
5. Plan your spring garden
January is a far cry from spring, but it’s an ideal time to plan and develop your spring garden. The weather is agreeable, the fallen leaves give you a better view of the garden as a whole, and you have more time to enjoy the garden now that the lawn is dormant. As you walk around the garden, think about the things that you enjoyed last year – as well as the things you’d like to change. Is the vegetable bed in a convenient place, or should it be moved closer to your spigot or back door? Is the lawn working out for you, or are problems like poor drainage and heavy shade giving weeds the upper hand? Plan now so that you can dig and prepare the soil in comfort, rather than toil away in the hot, muggy days of April or May.