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Tips for Winter Gardening in Southern California

While December brings below-freezing temperatures to many parts of the country, it is an opportunity for Southern California gardeners to finish up on fall planting and undertake garden maintenance projects, say experts at Agromin, an Oxnard-based manufacturer of earth-friendly compost products made from organic material collected from more than 50 California cities including those in Santa Barbara County.

» Plant artichokes: Buying artichokes at the market can be expensive so planting these perennials can be a smart decision. Planted now, they can begin producing in summer. Don’t be surprised, however, if the first crop is disappointing or non-existent. It may take two growing cycles for the plants to mature to the point of growing sizable artichokes.

» Get creative with your garden: Think outside the box and plant vegetables that don’t get the most attention. These include such cool weather vegetables as asparagus, beets, Brussel sprouts, cabbage and celery.

» Ignore roses: Trim off flowers and then let your roses “harden” for winter. No need to fertilize.

» Buy (or rent) a living Christmas tree: Many families make it a tradition to purchase living Christmas trees and then plant them in their yard once the holidays are over. When purchasing a living tree to later plant, research the type of tree that would best fit your yard. Pine trees are messy, have large root systems and can grow to 40 feet or higher. They also need a significant amount of water. Pine trees that do well in the region are Afghan pine, Aleppo pine, Coast redwood and Deodar cedar. Do not keep a live tree indoors more than two weeks or it will begin to drop its needles. For another environmentally healthy alternative to purchasing a cut Christmas tree, in some parts of southern California, live Christmas trees are available for rent from The Living Christmas Company.

» Move container plants: Place container plants next to south or west-facing walls so they will absorb reflected daytime heat and stay shielded from wind. Move cacti, succulents and potted trees under cover for protection from cold and rain.

» Attend to fruit trees: Spray horticulture oils or lime-sulfur onto deciduous fruit trees. This will control diseases such as leaf curl caused by insects. Leaf curl can reduce the amount of fruit that is produced so spraying now will help summer production. You can also prune deciduous fruit trees this month.

» Keep lawns healthy in winter: Fill in bare spots with seeds, followed by soil amendment and plenty of water. Rake leaves from lawns. Mow as needed.

Click here for more gardening tips.

— Diane Zakian Rumbaugh is a publicist representing Agromin.

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