Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

April, 2004
Regional Report

Check Irrigation Systems

It's that time of year. Turn on your irrigation systems to check for fouled nozzles and broken risers. Make sure sprinkler heads are pointed in the right direction. No sense in watering the driveway. Remove and unplug any heads that just dribble (probably an earwig or slug is stuck in the orifice). Plan to start automatic systems when the soil is dry 2 inches below the surface.

Fertilize Annuals

To get the most from your spring-blooming annuals, fertilize every two to three weeks with a water-soluble fertilizer. A 15-30-15 product will promote lush green foliage and a plenitude of flowers. Rinse plants lightly with fresh water after applying fertilizer to reduce the risk of fertilizer burn.

Deadhead Bulb Flowers

To ensure that your daffodil and narcissus bulbs will be in peak form for next year, remove the faded flowers now. Treat the foliage as if it were an honored guest in your garden by fertilizing lightly. Once the foliage begins to turn yellow, withhold water and allow them to die back naturally to the soil level. When the foliage has dried completely, it should pull away from the soil easily.

Pick Sweet Pea Flowers

Keep plucking those sweet peas! The more you cut, the more you will get. Their season is short -- the plants will last only until the hot weather sets in -- so gather ye sweet peas while ye may. Share fragrant bouquets with your friends. To prolong the bloom, make sure plants have adequate water. Sweet peas have very deep roots so infrequent deep soaking is best.

Set Out Nesting Material

Birds are your gardens' best friends. They eat a multitude of insect pests and should be encouraged to stay by setting out a variety of nesting material. Easter basket grass, bits of colorful yarn or string, clippings from vine plants, harvested long grass, raffia, or recycled ribbon all will be welcome during the busy nesting season. Hang nesting material in trees and shrubs in a recycled nylon net produce bag. Birdies can pick and choose as they please.

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