Saturday, december 26, 2009
Gardeners are reborn with each season. We plant, tend, enjoy, harvest and plant again. to help you keep pace, here is our annual garden calendar, featuring a plant of the month and some tips to keep you going all year long. — Joan Morris and Holly Hayes
Illustrations by dave Johnson/Staff
What was top with teens in 2009? pAGE 5
Sweet pea Lathyrus odoratus
Details: Annual; climber that comes in a variety of colors; wonderfully scented; full sun. Sweet peas like the cold, so sow now for spring blooms. Enrich the soil before sowing and make sure you have support for the vines. OK to plant: Bare-root fruit, flowering and shade trees; grape and berry vines; strawberries, roses, pansies, English daisies, Iceland poppies, primroses and snapdragons; broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and lettuce for early spring harvest; asparagus, artichokes, seed potatoes, onion and garlic.
coneflower Echinacea purpurea
Details: Perennial; many varieties and colors; tall, stiffstemmed with distinctive cone-shaped button top; full sun. Sow seeds toward the end of the month for spring and summer blooms. Echinacea loves the sun and wants to keep its feet dry; avoid planting in heavy clay soil — it needs good drainage. OK to plant: Hardy annuals and perennials, including calendulas, fairy primroses, pansies, snapdragons, violas, callas, tuberous begonias, day lilies, asparagus, rhubarb, artichokes, horseradish, strawberries, potatoes, onions, garlic, broccoli, cauliflower, leaf lettuce and chard.
california poppy Eschscholzia californica
Details: Perennial; California’s state flower; reseeds prolifically; full sun. One reason we love the California poppy is because it grows easily in places where nothing else will. Sow seeds in late autumn and early spring, then enjoy the golden treasure. OK to plant: Passion vine, trumpet creeper, cape honeysuckle, alstroemeria and wild lilac to attract hummingbirds and butterflies; ground cover, cinerarias, ageratums, begonias and dwarf marigolds. Start an herb garden and rejuvenate perennial herbs by cutting back dead or old growth. Start peas, lettuce, spinach and carrots from seed.
Kale Brassica oleracea
Details: Annual; can be grown in summer and fall; related to ornamental cabbage; full sun. Although kale is a traditional winter crop, it can be planted in the spring and harvested through summer. Keep an eye out for black aphids and cabbage loopers. OK to plant: Cosmos, nasturtiums, sunflowers, begonias, dahlias, gladiolus, callas and canna. When danger of frost has passed put in tropical hibiscus, jacaranda, bougainvillea, summer vegetables, herbs and ornamental gourds. Put in cucumbers, peppers and tomatoes midmonth, if it warms up.
Strawberries Fragaria x. ananassa
Details: Annual; plant in August-September for spring harvests; require lots of water, but avoid overhead sprinklers; full sun. Growing strawberries can be tricky, but the rewards this time of the year are great. Keep the soil pH at 6.0-6.5. OK to plant: Tomatoes, peppers, hot-weather annuals such as asters, cosmos, marigolds, petunias and portulacas; pumpkins, melons, gourds, beans, corn and squash. Pinch azaleas, fuchsias, mandevillas and marguerites for bushier plants.
cherries Prunus avium
Details: Deciduous tree; plant bare-root trees in winter, early spring; harvest when fruit is ripe as it will not ripen once off the tree. Cherries can be another one of those fussy residents of your garden. You have to fight unexpected spring rainstorms, sudden cold snaps and the birds, but the harvest can make you forget all that pretty quickly. OK to plant: Shade-loving plants, especially coleus, impatiens and ferns; marigolds, verbena, zinnias, dahlias and other hot-weather bedding plants; coreopsis, penstemon, salvias and statice, clarkia, hollyhock, morning glory and columbine; corn, squash, melons, cucumbers, eggplants, peppers and tomatoes.
butterfly bush Buddleja
Details: Perennial; named because it attracts a variety of butterflies, hummingbirds and beneficial insects to the garden; beautiful colors and scents; full sun. This charmer blooms through the summer into winter with minimum water and puts on a show with its vivid flowers and the guests it attracts. OK to plant: Zinnias, dahlias, marigolds, geraniums, chrysanthemums, penstemons, alyssum, coneflowers, cosmos, catmint and larkspur, fast-maturing beans, beets and corn. Start seeds of cool-season vegetables indoors.
tomatoes Solanum lycopersicum
Details: Annual; grow determinate (will grow to certain size and produce for a certain amount of time) or indeterminate (will continue growing and producing until the weather gets too cold); full sun. The world of tomatoes is a vast one that gets even larger when you add in new hybrids and old heirlooms. Tomatoes planted in the spring should be coming on terrifically this month. OK to plant: Asters, impatiens, marigolds, zinnias, yarrow, lantana, Mexican bush sage and lavender; peas.
Kabocha squash Cucurbita maxima
Details: Annual; Japanese winter squash; can be stored in cool place for months after harvesting; full sun. This easy-to-grow squash is forgiving of the neglectful gardener. Watch for color changes to indicate ripeness (green to green-gray), and enjoy. OK to plant: Day lilies, broccoli, cauliflower, radishes, beets, spinach, lettuce, peas and chard; sow herb seeds or plant transplants of parsley, tarragon, sage, cilantro, rosemary, sorrel and thyme.
california grape Vitis californica
Details: Deciduous vine; nice as ground cover or on a trellis; small clusters of edible grapes; attracts bees; likes regular moisture and full sun. California grape is beautiful in summer with its green leaves, but it’s in the autumn, just before it goes into winter dormancy, that it really impresses, showing off its purple grapes against a backdrop of glorious orange, red and plum-colored leaves. OK to plant: Calendulas, Iceland poppies, fairy primroses, pansies, snapdragons, violas, winter sweet peas, freesias, tulips, daffodils; sow seeds of fava beans, chard, peas, radishes and spinach; plant garlic, onions and shallots.
Details: Deciduous tree; two forms, astringent (tart) and nonastringent (sweet); requires another tree to pollinate; fruits only on mature trees, 7 years and older; full sun. Persimmons are easy to grow and produce fruit that has been compared to the nectar of the gods. But you have to be patient. OK to plant: Calendulas, cyclamens, pansies, primroses, hardy ground covers, amaryllis, anemones, callas and ranunculus; artichokes, asparagus and rhubarb.
Valley oak Quercus lobata
Details: Deciduous tree; abundant in the East Bay; largest of the California oaks; can live for 600 years; requires yearround access to groundwater. For those who don’t believe California’s trees can put on an autumn show of color, check out the valley oaks with their golden-bronze leaves and carpet of acorns. OK to plant: Cool-season such coneflowers, pansies, primroses and Iceland poppies; scatter wildflower seeds; plant California natives so they’ll be established with the winter rains; plant spring-blooming bulbs in containers; plant artichokes, herbs, garlic, parsley, spinach and onions.