Tip of the Month

Kale (Brassica oleracea) is part of the cabbage family. Kale is grown for its edible greens that are found in several leaf textures. It’s easy to grow and good for you, too.

Kale prefers cool weather and a frost improves its flavor. Plant seeds and transplants from September to mid-February. Plant seeds one-half inch deep about three inches apart. When plants are about five inches tall, thin the seedlings (these tender greens are delicious in salads!). Space rows about 18 inches apart. Succession planting ensures a steady harvest through spring. However, as the weather warms, kale becomes tough and bitter and will begin to flower.

Growing several varieties of kale can add variety to your garden. Look for different varieties of transplants or check seed companies for new cultivars. Lacinato (“Dinosaur”) kale is the best choice for the desert, as it tolerates more cold and heat than the curly variety.


Sow seeds of beets, bok choy, carrots, lettuce, radishes, spinach and Swiss chard.

Start seeds of peppers, eggplant and tomatoes indoors.


Cover frost-tender plants with burlap, sheets or frost cloth.


Prune roses by removing dead and crossing canes. Leave five or six canes, cutting them to 18 inches.

Dab ends with wood glue to discourage insects.

Trim non-native deciduous shade trees. Wait to prune native trees and shrubs after they bloom.

Prune citrus only to remove dead wood, crossed branches, suckers rising from below the graft point and vertical sprouts from the top of the tree.


If winter rains are sparse, water trees and shrubs every two or three weeks.

Do not water succulents if forecast calls for a freeze.

Water fall-planted wildflower seeds if there is little rainfall.


Set out transplants of sweet alyssum, candy tuft, baby’s breath, daisy, bacopa, bachelor’s button, pansy, calendula, snapdragon, wallflower, nasturtium, ornamental kale, Iceland poppy and stock.

Set out winter vegetables such as Brussel sprouts, cabbage, kale, Chinese cabbage and cauliflower.


Fertilize bearded iris toward the end of the month, then water thoroughly.

Fertilize citrus in January or February. Use one-third of the total nitrogen requirement.

Scatter granular fertilizer along the canopy and water deeply.

Do not feed dormant Bermuda grass.


Continue citrus harvest of grapefruits, mandarins, tangelos, lemons, kumquats, navels and blood oranges.