The weather keeps being beautiful though chilly at night. With deciduous trees and plants becoming even more seasonally colorful, like my persimmon, and the few summer edibles like my tomatoes still sort of struggling while I wait for the tiny fruits to ripen enough to pick, the edibles and ornamentals that love the chill are perking up vigorously. And the in-the-70s daytime temperatures make puttering in the garden so enjoyable. So what to concentrate on? Here’re some that I’ve been doing.
Planting Fig Trees
Planting my two Violette de Bordeaux fig trees that I’d started from cuttings last spring. I know their energies are shutting down now for the winter, but I figured it was better to get them into their permanent home now so they could get barely established now and then be raring to grow with the early spring warmth.
Continuing to Harvest Chard
I’ve been so very impressed with chard’s tender leafy production literally year ‘round that I can’t bear to pull up the plants that have made it this far into the winter, although I always reseed more now to assure new strong plants in the spring.
Continuing Sowing Cool-Season Veggies
Leafy greens like bok choy, lettuce, spinach, and all the mesclun mixes provide such a tremendous variety of greens and reds and whites for raw and cooked culinary uses, and for such a long time through the cold weather before they bolt (go to seed and turn bitter) with the late spring warmth.
Peas reseeded every several weeks provide a continuing supply of fresh pods all through the winter and into the late spring. Wando is one variety that can be depended on through the cold and as the last planting when it’s already too warm for other varieties.
Continuing Transplanting Perennial Edibles
Transplant globe artichokes, Jerusalem artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, cabbages, cauliflower, horseradish, and rhubarb; also cane berries, grapes, and strawberries.
For several years, I’d trimmed my roses back to about 3 feet tall since one year I’d forgotten completely and the resulting foliage and bloom was tremendous. After many years’ development of lots of scrawny branchlets, this year I decided to do the severe cut, down to about 15 inches. We’ll see how spring bloom proceeds!
Sow seeds of African daisy (gazania), ageratum, alyssum, baby-blue-eyes, baby's breath (gypsophila), bachelor's buttons (cornflower), calendulas, candytuft, delphinium, forget-me-nots, hollyhocks, impatiens, larkspur, lobelia, lunaria (honesty, money plant, silver dollar plant), lupines, nasturtiums, pansies, sweet peas, California and Iceland and Shirley poppies, verbena, and wildflowers.
Transplant seedlings of astilbes, azaleas, bleeding hearts, calendulas, camellias, canterbury bells (campanula, bellflower), cinerarias, columbines (aquilegia), cyclamen, delphiniums, dianthus, forget-me-nots, foxgloves, gaillardias, hollyhocks, lilies-of-the-valley, ornamental cabbage and kale, pansies, peonies, Iceland and Oriental poppies, primroses, snapdragons, stocks, sweet Williams, violas, and violets.
Now, it’d be wonderful to have some rain, but gently falling so the soil can absorb it slowly!
Until then, water overwintering outdoor plants. Irrigation should be reduced, not stopped, as plant photosynthesis slows down and cold weather dries plants out. Plants that are stressed from lack of irrigation are more susceptible to frost damage. Water less frequently but just as deeply to assure that the full root systems are hydrated.