Chinese cabbage has a mild, sweet flavor that lacks the usual cabbage odor when cooked; it's also loaded with vitamins. There are two kinds: one with heads that are tall and cylindrical, and another with more egg-shaped heads. The crinkly, pale-green leaves differentiate Chinese cabbage from traditional round-headed cabbages. Fairly easy to grow, Chinese cabbage yields a lot in a small space. Seeds may be sown now, directly in the garden or in a container. Good varieties include 'Two Seasons Hybrid,' 'Dynasty Hybrid' and 'Michihli.'
Check the undersides of the leaves of vegetables for aphids, which multiply quickly, especially on cabbage-family crops. You can control them by simply washing them off with a strong stream of water, or, if you get a major infestation, use an insecticidal soap--effective but harmless to beneficial insects.
Buy live Christmas trees as soon as they are available. Your choice will be better then, and most nurseries will be glad to hold them until your delivery date. Some kinds are better adapted to the Southern California climate than others. Many will need shaping to keep a conical Christmas tree shape. And give some thought to what you plan to do with it after December.
Start paperwhites now in water if you want them to bloom for the holidays. Select a shallow bowl that has enough room for root growth. Put a little wood charcoal in the bottom to keep the water sweet, and fill the bowl with gravel or white rock. Place the bulb so that half is above the gravel; then fill the bowl with water to the point at which it barely touches the bottom of the bulb; after root growth starts, even less water will do. Never place paperwhites in the dark as you would hyacinths, because the leaves will stretch and stretch--seeking light--and then topple. New paperwhites have been developed in Israel that have superior form and texture. One is 'Galilea,' and another is 'Ziva,' which blooms earlier. The large Dutch amaryllis, started now, will bloom around the New Year.