Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

January, 2004
Regional Report

Plant Spring-Blooming Annuals From Seed

Begin planting spring-blooming annuals from seed indoors. Fill seed trays with fresh potting soil and water well. Sow seed in rows on the surface of the soil. Cover with a light dusting of fresh soil, label with variety and date planted, then water lightly with a mister. Place seed trays in a warm, sunny location free from drafts. Cover seed trays with large plastic bags to hold humidity and warmth. Mist daily until germination, then open the bag to allow for air circulation. Remove bag completely when plants seem hardy.

Force Bulbs Indoors

Fool mother nature into believing it is spring inside your house. You can force some types of hardy, spring bulbs into bloom indoors with a little encouragement. Try tulips, daffodils, crocuses, hyacinths, and narcissus. Plant bulbs in containers with fresh potting soil, water well, then place in the vegetable crisper of your refrigerator. When the bulbs have formed roots, place the pots in a cool room with bright light. Once foliage and buds form, move the pots out into living areas to enjoy.

Water Under Eves

Shrubs or container plants that grow under overhanging eves may need water this time of year. Rain water won't reach plants that are protected by overhangs. Connect your hose to the faucet and make a tour around your home, watering as you go. Weak plants that are stressed by drought are susceptible to attacks from insect pests.

Top-Dress Perennials

Place a layer of well rotted manure over dormant perennial plants to promote strong, healthy growth in spring. Ferns, perennial bloomers, as well as asparagus and rhubarb will appreciate this nourishing soil treatment.

Prune Fruit Trees

Prune apples, pears, plums, and other deciduous fruit trees by first removing all dead, diseased, and injured wood. Fruiting wood is dark and gnarly, as opposed to water sprouts which are light in color and grow straight up from the branches. Remove water sprouts and leave fruiting spurs. Remember to keep trees low so the fruit will be easy to pick.

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