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Your Regional Garden News - Zone 10

January 1 to January 30

 

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:

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    It’s time for a new year, which means focusing on the future and maybe even looking back to our past. The mild winter weather is a perfect time to get kids off of the couch and out the door, where they can develop healthy habits by getting more intimately connected with the food that they might take for granted. A seasoned food gardener would never take a heirloom vegetable for granted, but now is also a good time to plant their oft-forgotten counterpart, the heirloom flower. If you’re looking for something new and exciting for the new year, you can do no better than Asian vegetables like Mizuna greens, pak choi and tatsoi. They’re a tasty and unexpected addition to just about any dish! If you keep your attention to the weather forecasts and have frost protection at the ready, another thing you can plant right now is warm season vegetables – especially for those of you in zone 10. Whatever you plan to do in January, gardening is sure to help you accomplish your new year’s resolutions.

    Harvest in style

    So you’ve packed on a few pounds from holiday parties and family gatherings. No need to worry if you have veggies in the garden, especially if they’re ready for picking. Many vegetables can be harvested as young as you’d like, so keep a 3.5 gallon tuftote bucket by your side while thinning out those carrots, onions and greens Then serve them up fresh for a fancy-pants microgreen salad or swap them out with lettuce on your sandwiches and wraps. If you’re picking full-size vegetables and need a way to carry them to the kitchen, garden hods are durable wood and coated mesh baskets that are up to the task. They’re especially useful because you can clean and drain your veggies right there in the basket! Another helpful tool to have for the harvest are herb snips, which also have a built in leaf stripper for removing the leaves from stems of rosemary and other woody herbs.

     
      

    Plant asian vegetables

    If you’re looking for a break from the ordinary in your vegetable garden this year, try planting a plot of Asian vegetables. Pak choi is the Asian veggie to which we’ve become most acquainted, whether it’s called napa, Chinese cabbage or bok choi. It’s an essential ingredient in Chinese stir-fries and is also used to make the popular Korean dish, kimchi. Related greens include mizuna, a feathery-textured and leafy vegetable with a pungent mustard-like kick; and tatsoi, with its spoon-shaped mild leaves. The giant red mustard and its kin have recently become very popular as ornamental edibles, but it’s also a tasty vegetable that’s popular in both China and Japan. Other Asian vegetables to try include Asian cucumbers, Japanese eggplants, daikon radishes and yard-long beans.

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  • Cautiously plant warm season crops

    Notice the word ‘cautiously’. It’s still early for warm-season crops in zone 9, but you can get away with starting seeds now either indoors or out, albeit with protection whenever nighttime temperatures start to dip below 40 degrees. Another option is to grow in containers and bring plants indoors when frost is forecast overnight. Gardeners in zone 10 can plant with relatively little worry, but it still pays to have a floating row cover or set of old sheets ready for that freak blast of arctic air. The priority for most of you will be to grow tomatoes, but be sure to plant them is a different spot from where you grew them (and the related eggplant, potato and pepper) last year to avoid an accumulation of tomato-loving pests. The same goes for plants in the Cucurbitacae family, such as squashes, zucchini, pumpkins, watermelons and cucumbers; plant these related veggies somewhere else this season. If you don’t have enough space to rotate your crops, try companion planting with pest-repelling plants like marigolds and nasturtiums. Otherwise, grow them in containers for a season.

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    Grow heirloom flowers

    There’s just something special about growing a piece of living history in your garden and knowing that you’re enjoying the same colorful blooms as your ancestors. While many of the flowers developed for today’s gardens are tight and compact, sometimes you just need the rambling look of nasturtiums like ‘Peach Melba’ and ‘Vesuvius’ for that cottage garden appeal. This oven and sprawling growth habit is especially useful for covering large areas quickly or where they can be grown vertically; either hanging down from hanging baskets and window boxes or growing up trellises and other supports. Zinnias are another classic plant to grow in your heritage flowerbed. You can practically picture an old illustrated seed catalog cover when you look at the blooms of the ‘Candy Cane’ zinnia mix, and the light jade green flowers of ‘Envy’ are an exotic addition to cut flower arrangements. Make sure you have some started in time to bloom for St. Patrick’s day and keep them protected from frost until then. For a Victorian look, try growing the “Eckford’s Finest’ sweet pea mix; a collection of handpicked heirloom flowers that Henry Eckford bred to bring the little known sweet pea to worldwide fame.

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    Get kids gardening

    There’s just something special about growing a piece of living history in your garden and knowing that you’re enjoying the same colorful blooms as your ancestors. While many of the flowers developed for today’s gardens are tight and compact, sometimes you just need the rambling look of nasturtiums like ‘Peach Melba’ and ‘Vesuvius’ for that cottage garden appeal. This oven and sprawling growth habit is especially useful for covering large areas quickly or where they can be grown vertically; either hanging down from hanging baskets and window boxes or growing up trellises and other supports. Zinnias are another classic plant to grow in your heritage flowerbed. You can practically picture an old illustrated seed catalog cover when you look at the blooms of the ‘Candy Cane’ zinnia mix, and the light jade green flowers of ‘Envy’ are an exotic addition to cut flower arrangements. Make sure you have some started in time to bloom for St. Patrick’s day and keep them protected from frost until then. For a Victorian look, try growing the “Eckford’s Finest’ sweet pea mix; a collection of handpicked heirloom flowers that Henry Eckford bred to bring the little known sweet pea to worldwide fame.

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Gardening Tip of the Day

  • If you live in a drought prone area, keep the following annuals in mind when ordering seed. After the first 3 or 4 weeks in the garden, they require only minimal water to bloom.

    • Cosmos
    • Gaillardia
    • Gazania
    • Four o’Clocks
    • Nierembergia
    • Phlox
    • Portulaca
    • Tithonia
    • Verbena
    • Vinca

    There are several things you can do to improve the water retentive properties of your soil. Add compost, use water retentive crystals (i.e. Soil Moist, TerraSorb), and mulch the beds.