Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

February, 2004
Regional Report

Care for Lawns

Soggy lawns suffer in wet weather. Use a spading fork or golf shoes and walk across the lawn to get oxygen down to the roots. The more air you incorporate into the soil, the less trouble you will have with fungus diseases. Don\'t fertilize yet; new growth is very susceptible to fungus disease. Wait for the weather to warm and the days to get a little longer before applying fertilizer. After mowing, wash the underside of the mower with a 10 percent solution of bleach or Lysol to prevent the spread of fungus diseases.

Patrol For Slugs

Voracious snails and slugs are coming out in force now. Protect new seedlings from hungry snails by surrounding planting beds with copper foil. Individual plants can be protected by surrounding with fireplace ash or diatomaceous earth. Organic slug and snail control products are available. Do not use chemical pesticides around food crops.

Prune, Prune, Prune!

Everything that has lost its leaves for the winter needs attention now. Dormant-season pruning keeps plants healthy and shapely. The basic rules for dormant pruning are: Remove any dead, diseased, or injured wood; remove any growth that crosses through the middle of the plant; and finally, prune for shape. Keep fruit trees low so you can reach the fruit, keep roses low so they don't produce flowers 10 feet in the air. Wait just a little while longer to prune hydrangeas and fuchsias.

Apply Dormant Spray

After you have finished pruning your deciduous plants, apply a dormant spray, such as lime/sulfur or copper and oil. Don't forget to spray the ground beneath the plants too. Dormant spraying kills insect eggs that may survive the winter in bark and on the ground. Lime/sulfur and copper/oil are both organic products, however be sure to use your safety gear whenever you spray pesticides.

Sow Peas and Sweet Peas

Peas are a cool-season crop, best planted when the soil is still cool to the touch. Presoak seeds in damp paper towels for best germination. Plant in deep, loose soil that has been amended with organic compost. Provide support in the form of a trellis or wire pea cage. Protect young seedlings from hungry snails.

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