Califonia Bountiful

Gardening Q&A

January/February 2021 California Bountiful magazine

As a California Bountiful reader, you have the opportunity to get your seasonal gardening questions answered by gardening expert Pat Rubin. Here are a few questions from our readers.

How do I start tomatoes now so I have good-sized plants for spring?

It's a little more complicated that just dropping seeds into a pot. You need to fool the seeds into thinking it's spring, that the ground is warming and it's time to sprout. The best bet is using a warming pad under the pots, and then having lights hung just above the pots to use when the seeds sprout. Most garden centers carry all the supplies you'll need, and there's also plenty of detailed help online.

My scented geraniums are showing some signs of damage from the cold. Can I save them?

The hardiest ones are the rose-scented geraniums. The most frost-susceptible is the peppermint geranium. However, even if the foliage is damaged and needs to be cut completely back, the root system is usually fine, and the plants come back as soon as it is safe. When the nights or days are going to be chillier than the plants can tolerate, cover them with a light blanket or newspaper. There are also covers you can buy at the local garden center to protect plants from frost. Even dumping leaves over the plant will offer some protection. If it's a geranium that is hard to replace, take some cuttings, put them in soil and bring the pots inside.


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