Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

February, 2005
Regional Report

Favorite or New Plant

Edible Landscape Trees
What could be better than beautiful trees that also produce food? Now through early March is a good time to plant bare-root fruit and nut trees (except for citrus and avocados, which should wait until the soil warms in May). Buy trees that have well-developed, fibrous root systems; a single, well-shaped leader; and no serious bark injury. Avoid trees with circling or tangled roots. Avoid trees with branches larger than the trunk or with branches that form a narrow angle with the trunk.

Roots of mature trees can spread up to three or four times the distance from the trunk to the edge of the branches, so be sure to prepare the planting hole well at least a foot or two beyond the size of the rootball. Loosen soil and add some compost and manure, but don't be too generous or the tree roots won't reach out into the surrounding soil for nutrients.

As the tree develops, feeder roots will remain somewhat close to the surface, so keep ground covers and construction away from the trunk, at least as far as its dripline. And, mulch, mulch, mulch to help moderate temperature and moisture now; and later when it breaks down, the mulch will add nutrients to the soil.

Clever Gardening Technique

Softening Hands While You Work
Give your hands a moisturizing treatment as you garden by lavishly spreading them with hand lotion or cream before putting on your gloves. Add extra cream under your fingernails. As you work, your hands will absorb the cream. When you remove the gloves, your hands will have benefited from the cream rather than suffered from the moisture-removing soil. In addition, the soil will be more easily washed from under your fingernails because lotion forms a barrier.

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Special Report - Garden to Table

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