Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

April, 2004
Regional Report

Make Moo Tea

I like to give my plants a variety of fertilizers. I wouldn\'t want to eat spaghetti every day and figure plants don\'t want the same thing all the time either. One of the fertilizer treatments I use is Moo Tea. I fill the leg of an old panty hose with steer manure and place it in a 5-gallon bucket of water overnight. The following morning, I pour the solution into a watering can and apply it to my annuals, vegetables, and perennials. Everybody at my house seems to like tea time!

Keep on the Bug Watch

May brings warm weather and hatching insects. As the soil warms, insect eggs hatch and come to life with a voracious appetite. This is the time of year when armyworms, tent caterpillars, grubs, and whiteflies make their seasonal debut. The best offense is a good defense, so be on the lookout for signs of infestation. If you only have a few insects, live and let live. If you notice an infestation, rake the area clean, wash the foliage, and treat with a soap and oil spray.

Prune Gently

Don\'t do any large pruning jobs right now. One reason is that the sap is flowing and any major cuts may seriously injure ornamental and fruit trees. Another reason is that the birdies are nesting now. Birds are a glorious companion to any garden because they eat insects, especially when they have a hungry family to feed.

Patrol for Weeds

Pull them, mow them, but whatever you do, please don't spray them. Mowing weeds is actually good for the soil because the dead weeds decompose and act like compost. Mowing also provides nesting material for birds. Pulling is best, especially if you throw the residue of your labor into the compost pile. Weeds surrender easily if the soil is slightly damp. Grasp the weed by the base near the soil and pull gently. You may need to use a weed knife to get under the roots of some hard-to-control weeds, such as "dandy lions" and belladonna. Use weed eaters along fence lines, being careful not to damage the trunks of trees.

Check Irrigation Systems

The time to check your irrigation system is before you actually need to use it. Before hot weather sets in, turn on all valves manually and check for plugged heads, heads turned the wrong way, or missing sprinklers. Drip systems should have the lines cleaned and emitters checked for debris.

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