For most annual flowers and vegetables, sow seeds indoors four to eight weeks before it’s time to plant the seedlings outdoors.

Fill, sow, and label. Use small pots or cell-packs, and fill to just below the rim with a light, porous seed-starting mix. Moisten the mix; let drain. Follow the guidelines on the seed packet, and cover seeds with the recommended amount of mix. Moisten lightly, and label your containers, since many seedlings look alike.

Care. When the soil surface feels dry, spray with a fine mist. Once seeds germinate, move the container to a warm area with bright light. As the seedlings grow, thin out the weakest ones. About 10 days before planting out, harden off the seedlings by setting them outdoors for a few hours each day to get them acclimated.

Norman A. Plate

What to do in your Southern California garden in February

Nan Sterman


Order seeds, such as pepper, pumpkin, tomato, and zucchini, for spring and summer vegetables gardens.


Start seeds of beets, carrots, collards, fava beans, kale, leeks, lettuce, parsley, peas, rutabaga, spinach, and turnip.

Continue planting vines including the Baja native, San Miguel coral vine (Antigonon leptopus). This graceful climber produces slender sprays of bright pink or white flowers in from summer through fall. Plant it in full sun and give it regular water.

Grow rhubarb from bare root. It prefers acidic soil and cold temperatures, so try growing one plant in a very large pot in the coldest part of your garden, such as the base of a slope where cold air drains.

Look for southern highbush blueberries, such as ‘Jubilee,’ ‘O’Neal,’ and ‘Sunshine Blue’. For biggest production and healthiest plants, grow them in a container filled with acidic potting mix. Fertilize regularly, water deeply, and place them in half to full day sun.

Grow black-leaved Leucadendron ‘Ebony,’ a new low-water shrub. Not quite black, the leaves are deep, deep bronze with a touch of yellow. Grow these beauties in full sun, and well draining soil. They’ll grow 3 to 4 feet tall and wide. Combine them with low mounding, yellow flowering sundrops (Calylophus drummondianus) for a stunning display.


Prune away frost damaged leaves and stems once your garden’s last frost date is past.

Cut back ornamental grasses before new growth starts. Gather the blades by looping twine around the clump, about 12 inches above ground. Pull the twine tight around the blades, and then cut the grass about 4 to 6 inches above ground. Compost the clippings.

To see if a planting bed needs water, dig a hole 4 to 6 inches deep. If the soil at the bottom is damp, don’t water. If it is dry, water deeply, then wait for the soil to dry out before watering again.

Fertilize citrus and avocado along the coast. Use a granular organic fertilizer and follow label directions.

Mosquitoes breed in anything that holds standing water: pots, buckets, dishes, and birdbaths, etc. Hose out birdbaths regularly and empty vessels filled with dirty water.

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