Regional Gardening Guide - Zone 9-10
December 1 to December 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:
The weather outside’s delightful here in zones 9-11, and there are so many rewarding things to do in the garden this month. Here are some ideas and tips to get you excited about all the possibilities your yard, balcony or homestead has to offer; from growing amaryllis outdoors to planting new seeds for the new year.
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. Get motivated for a New Year!
Fight the winter blues and go into the new year with a new attitude about gardening. Gardening isn’t a chore or a hobby, but rather an adventure in which you get to plot your own course and transform the space that surrounds your home. It isn’t about success or failure, but about learning along the way. Your dead plants leave you with free compost, valuable lessons that you won’t find in a book, and best of all, room for more plants. But what good is a lesson if you forget it by next year? Take advantage of your newfound knowledge and plan your next plantings by keeping a garden journal. There you can jot down your progress, make a note of the plants that did poorly and maybe even do a little daydreaming. Write about the things that bring you joy in the garden; from minute mosses and bugs to those sensations that are so hard to effectively put into words. The garden is your sanctuary, so never allow it to become a struggle.
2. Order Amaryllis Bulbs
They’re known as a holiday plant up north, but here amaryllis (Hippeastrum) can be grown directly in the ground for a stunning springtime display of massive blooms. Since their wide and strappy foliage looks sparse when out of bloom, plant bulbs where they’ll blend in; among other strappy-leaved plants like Agapanthus and spider lilies, or with plants that are still dormant in early spring – such as deciduous gingers or caladiums. It might be tempting to order a wide variety of blooms with different colors and forms, but stick to masses of a single variety for maximum impact. Plant the bulbs directly in the ground once they arrive, or plant them in pots for the holidays. When the flowers fade, plant them outside and expect to wait a year before they bloom again.
3. Watch and Learn how to plant seeds
While each Burpee seed packet comes with its own specific planting instructions, you might have questions nonetheless. Watch the videos listed below to learn the ins and outs of starting flowers and vegetables from seed; from the basics to directly sowing in the ground or using seed tapes. Since we don’t need to start seed indoors in our mild climate, direct sowing is a useful technique that helps get many plants get started on the right foot. However, start seeds in peat pellets or coir pots to give seedlings close attention until they’ve grown more robust. This will make it easier to thin out excess seedlings and allow you to add a light mulch around them once they’re planted. Use seed tapes for taproot-forming like carrots, radishes and beets, as well as any other vegetables that would otherwise need thinning out after planting.
4. Shop for New Flower and Veggie Seeds
The new 2017 selection of seeds is out, but don’t wait until the new year to get planting the cool season veggies on the list. ‘Dragon’s Tail’ radish is an exciting new offering that’s grown not for the roots, but for the long and delicate purple seedpods that follow a beautiful display of lacy white flowers. Use the tangy pods in stir-fries, salads, or Asian dishes for a burst of color and class. ‘Dynamite’ is a new butterhead lettuce that not only has sweet and tender leaves, but has proven itself resistant to aphids, mosaic virus and water mold. The new ‘Prism’ hybrid kale is sure to make waves for its nearly stemless leaves that will save you lots of time and frustration in the kitchen. Be sure to check out the whole new lineup of seeds to find more veggies, flowers, fruit and supplies to plant this year.
5. Prepare for the Frost
Have you ever spent a frigid evening covering up tender plants in advance of a record-breaking cold snap? Frosts are nearly inevitable for gardeners in zone 9 each year, but even those of you in zone 10 shouldn’t let your guard down. So instead of waiting to the last minute and covering up your tomatoes with the contents of your laundry hamper, stock up on floating row covers. They effectively protect both edibles and ornamentals from frost by holding the fabric above the foliage, thus providing a layer of insulation. If you’re tired of lugging heavy potted plants back and forth, use the ultimate garden cart to ferry them to warmer places in comfort and style. Even growers in frost-free San-Diego and Miami will benefit from a little extra warmth, particularly when it comes to warm and hot-season vegetables. Use solar mulch beneath tomatoes and other heat-loving veggies to extend your growing season and help them grow steadily through cold days.