Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

January, 2001
Regional Report

Plant Spring Annuals


Begin planting spring-blooming annuals from seed indoors. Fill seed trays with fresh potting soil and water it well. Sow seed in rows on the surface of the soil. Cover with a light dusting of fresh potting 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 them with large, clear plastic bags to hold humidity and warmth. Mist and check daily until germination occurs; then open the bag to allow for air circulation. Remove the bag completely when seeds germinate.

Force Bulbs Indoors


Fool Mother Nature into believing it's spring inside your house. You can force some types of spring-hardy bulbs such as tulips, daffodils, crocus, hyacinth, and narcissus into bloom indoors with a little encouragement. Plant bulbs in containers filled with fresh potting soil, water them, then place them in your refrigerator. When the bulbs have formed roots, move the pots to a cool room with bright light. Once foliage and buds form, move the pots out into living areas to enjoy.

Water under Eaves

Shrubs and container plants that grow under overhanging eaves may need watering this time of year. Rain won\'t reach plants that are protected by overhangs. Make a tour around your home with the hose, watering as you go. Water deeply and infrequently rather than frequently and shallowly.

Top-Dress Perennials


Place a layer of well-rotted manure over dormant perennial plants to promote strong, healthy growth this spring. Not only perennial flowers such as coreopsis and echinacea, but ferns, ground covers, and even vegetables such as asparagus and rhubarb will appreciate this nourishing soil treatment.

Prune Fruit Trees


Prune apple, pear, plum and other deciduous fruit trees by first removing all dead, diseased, and injured wood. Fruiting wood is dark and gnarly, as opposed to vegetative water sprouts, which are light in color, grow straight up from the branches, and don't produce fruit. Remove water sprouts and leave fruiting wood, pruning to keep the branches low so they're easier to harvest.

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