As the official start of spring approaches, longer days and warmer weather encourages new growth in the garden and also inspires gardeners to dream and plan. Non-stop Santa Ana winds and crazy temperature changes make garden planning a challenge this March, but this is usually a great time to start some cool season crops in the Santa Monica Mountains. Lettuce, Swiss chard, peas, carrots and beets are all good choices. So are herbs like parsley, dill and basil that can bolt to seed in hot weather.

This is also the ideal time to sow a handful of native wildflower seeds, like California poppies, lupine, and clarkia.

Bare root fruit trees, grape vines, berry canes and roses are beginning to show up at plant nurseries. Plan ahead to make sure these plants have enough room and sun to achieve their full potential. Gopher cages—baskets made of chicken wire or hardware cloth that go into the soil to protect the roots are a good investment and can help to give new plants a better chance to thrive.

For those of us who grow container gardens, now is the time to repot plants that have outgrown their containers and add fresh soil and fertilizer to those that can stay put for another season.

Do you have a garden or a gardening tip to share? Email us at hello@topanganewtimes.com