Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

March, 2004
Regional Report

Plant Perennials

If you absolutely, positively can't wait another minute before you plant something in the earth, perennial blooming plants, such as artemisia, coreopsis, gaillardia, penstemon, salvia, and wallflowers can be set out now from gallon containers. If you wait a bit longer, these same plants will be available in 4-inch pots at a dramatic savings.

Cultivate Pansies

Pansies love to have the soil cultivated around their roots. After removing the faded flowers from the plants, use a cultivating tool to break open the surface of the soil so that water, air, and nutrients can penetrate to the roots. Your plants will be healthier and produce more flowers for a longer period if groomed in this manner.

Impatient For Impatiens?

I couldn't wait; I had to plant my impatiens. I love them and found flats available at my local nursery. They will probably sit there until the weather warms, but they're in the ground, so that's that. If you can't wait either, make sure they are protected from late-season frosts. Amend the soil prior to planting with organic compost, and please, never plant in dry soil.

Fertilize Lawns

Give lawns a wake-up call by applying fertilizer now. Fertilizer high in nitrogen will promote lush new growth, but it also may encourage some fungus diseases. Mow prior to applying fertilizer, and water immediately after application. Don't forget to sweep walks and driveways afterwards to prevent fertilizer stains.

Improve soil

Before you plant, improve existing soil by adding organic compost, manure, peat moss, or soil conditioners. It's a good idea to continue to improve your soil every time you change a garden bed, especially in vegetable gardens or annual flower beds, where the soil becomes exhausted from continuous planting. Soil texture is as important as nutrient values, so if your soil is heavy clay, add sand and organic compost to eliminate compaction. Great gardens come from the ground up!

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