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Southern California Gardening: Gardening Calendar

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

Wondering what should be on your garden to-do list? Southern California gardening contributor Sharon Lovejoy outlines the tasks.

Southern California Regional Map

March

  • Draw sketches of garden plans for guidance.
  • Plant lettuce, radishes, pansies, kale, sweet peas, chives, parsley, strawberries, and chard in newly mulched beds.
  • Hang hummingbird feeders in a safe area (away from cats).
  • Search the gardens day and night (use a flashlight) for pests, and then drop them into a bucket of hot, soapy water.

April

  • Track your garden happenings by marking daily events on a calendar for future reference.
  • Bait hungry slugs and snails with beer in shallow tins or lids.
  • Plant nectar-rich native currants (Ribes) and coral-bells (Heuchera) for hummingbirds.
  • Fill containers with fresh soil, plant, and water deeply -- once for the plant, once for the pot.

May

  • Groom your succulents by removing damaged leaves and cutting spent blooms.
  • Photograph the progress of your garden for quick reference next year.
  • Plant corn, tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, pumpkins, and beans.
  • Glue a small mirror onto end of a yardstick for pest hunting under leaves.
  • Deadhead spent blooms and bundle stems of seed heads for birds.

June

  • Erect bamboo or branch tepees for beans and cucumbers.
  • Fertilize your containers and beds.
  • Scatter a mulch of small pebbles around the base of succulents.
  • Encircle fruit trees with a mounded donut of mulch -- but don't let mulch touch the tree trunk.
  • Build tomato supports of sturdy branches or strong cages.

July

  • Prune your fruit trees once during the summer to keep them a manageable size.
  • Refresh mounded donut mulch around trees monthly.
  • Pick up fallen fruits and compost damaged ones to prevent the spread of disease.
  • Harvest fruits and vegetables as they ripen and pick flowers to prolong blooming.
  • Set ripening pumpkins atop plastic.

August

  • Deadhead flowers every day to prolong blooming periods; pinch back growing tips to control leggy growth.
  • Tie a ribbon on your favorite plants to identify them. After blooming, save seed heads inside labeled paper bags.
  • Whoa! Don't overwater your tomato plants, or you'll have watery, split fruits.
  • Harvest herbs such as rosemary, savory, thyme, sage, and lavender flowers. Hang in a dark, dry area.

September

  • Sow the seeds of cool-season favorites such as primula, calendula, sweet peas, arugula, spinach, radish, carrots, violas, and peas.
  • Sow lettuce seeds weekly for a long-lasting crop.
  • Cut branched stems of nasturtiums, which produce colorful edible flowers. Root stems in water and transplant outdoors.
  • Plant June-bearing strawberries in rich, loose soil in a sunny area and mulch with pine needles or straw.
  • Harvest pumpkins and squash when they are colorful, the rind is hard, and the vine is brown. Store in a cool, dark area to cure.

October

  • Incorporate sets of bulbing onions and shallots into your existing landscape; harvest green tops through the winter and take the bulbs in spring.
  • Carve pumpkins -- and save seeds for next year's crop.
  • Sow sugar peas about 10 weeks before your first frost. Provide trellising, a tepee, or wire for these exuberant vines.
  • Mix tiny carrot seeds with larger radish seeds and broadcast them in fertile garden soil in a large container.

November

  • Stow succulents and cacti under an overhang, in a greenhouse, or on a porch to protect them from heavy rains and frost.
  • Naturalize spring-blooming bulbs in clusters throughout your gardens; try Freesia, Narcissus, Muscari, Ixia, Sparaxis, Galanthus, Leucojum, and Babiana.
  • Remove, rake, and dispose of diseased leaves and fruits before they have time to spread to other plants -- don't compost them!
  • Plant colorful chard, broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower amidst fall-blooming flowers (such as edible violas and calendulas) for double-duty harvests.

December

  • Prune grapevines back to a single, sturdy trunk and clip small twigs off at the base. Tie trunks to a trellis or arbor.
  • Plant native annuals such as California poppies, baby-blue-eyes, Clarkia, red maids, tidy-tips, Chinese houses, and owl's clover when winter rains begin.
  • Peruse the aisles of Lowe's nursery for a selection of berry-bearing toyon, cotoneaster, pyracantha, and mahonia (all of which please the birds).
  • Amend a sunny area of your garden with a layer of compost or mulch; plant artichokes and seed potatoes inside gopher-proof wire cages.