Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

March, 2005
Regional Report

Transplant Cool Crops and Berry Roots

This is the last month to transplant artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, and rhubarb. Also finish planting strawberry, blackberry, and raspberry roots so they'll bear fruit well this year.

Harvesting Broccoli

When harvesting broccoli, cut the head at an angle with a sharp knife. Snapping the stem, cutting flat across the stem, or cutting too far down the stem where it is hollow can create a surface where water can collect and decay can take hold. (A hollow stem can be caused by excessive nitrogen fertilizer.)

Planting Trees

Newly planted trees may need support for a year while they develop strong root systems and trunks. First, remove the stake that came from the nursery. Into the ground on either side of the trunk and a foot out from it, drive two sturdy 1- or 2-inch-wide stakes about 16 inches deep. About two-thirds the way up the trunk, tie loops from each stake around the trunk; use "soft" material like stockings or rags or old garden hose pieces. Tie the loops loosely so the trunk can sway gently in the wind; this strengthens the trunk and stimulates strong root growth. Remove the stakes after a year.

Protecting Long Feeder Roots

Tree roots can extend almost four times the distance from the trunk to the dripline. The longest ones -- the feeder roots -- are near the soil surface. When planting the tree, dig the planting hole twice the size of the rootball and turn over the soil a foot deep for that distance again further out. Incorporate some organic matter to help loosen the soil. Then new roots can easily reach out into this native soil and become well established. In addition, keep walkways, decks, and other heavy traffic and construction at least 5 feet away from the trunk so feeder roots won't be harmed.

Getting Lawns Ready for Spring

Lawns have begun growing vigorously again so they need their spring feeding and more frequent attention to mowing. Keep the mower engine tuned and the blade sharpened for quick, clean cutting of the grass blades. Ragged edges die back and invite diseases. The less you feed your lawn, the less you'll have to mow it.

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Special Report - Garden to Table

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