Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

May, 2001
Regional Report

Cultivate the Soil


Cultivate the soil around vegetables and bedding plants so that water and fertilizer can easily reach the roots. Compacted soil inhibits plant growth. By cultivating, you will also allow oxygen to reach the root zone and will dislodge weed seedlings before they can become established.

Watch for Spittle Bugs


Spring is the time for surprises in the garden, one of which may be the spittle bug. Spittle bugs do very little damage, but they are unsightly in mint beds. If you find clusters of bubbles between the leaves and along the stems of mint, simply wash them off with a strong jet of water.

Fertilize Indoor Plants


Mix a liquid fertilizer to half strength to fertilize indoor plants monthly while they are actively growing. Blooming plants such as African violets require bimonthly applications of liquid fertilizer as well as a continuous source of slow-release fertilizer.

Groom Rhododendrons


As the flowers fade on rhododendrons and azaleas, pinch off the spent blooms near the base to encourage bushy new growth. If you look closely, you will see a bit of tan-colored wood just below the flower. There are darker stripes in that tan wood that say, "Cut Here!" This is a sticky job--wear gloves.

Pull Weeds


Weeds steal precious water and nutrients from garden plants. Pull them before they go to seed. Weeds pull best from damp soil. After watering, put on your gloves and take a walk around your garden. Grasp any weeds you see near the base, just at soil level. Twist and pull at the same time, and the weed should slip out, roots and all! This is a very rewarding task.

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