Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

March, 2005
Regional Report

Keeping Flower Bulbs Tidy

Remove the spent flowers from bulb plants, such as daffodils and narcissus. Fertilize lightly to keep the foliage looking good for as long as possible to strengthen the bulbs for next season. Once the foliage begins to turn yellow, withhold water. Bundle the foliage in a rubber band so it doesn't look skanky until it is completely dry, then pull it free and toss into the compost pile.

Plant Vegetable Seeds

Plant new and unusual varieties of tomatoes, squash, and other warm-season vegetable crops from seed now so they'll be ready to set out in early May after the soil is warm to the touch. Provide light, heat, air circulation, and humidity for maximum germination. Use a mist bottle to keep the soil evenly moist until the seedlings push through the soil. Once they appear, allow the surface to dry slightly to encourage roots to grow deep. Try something new, it won't kill you!

Plant Perennials

If you absolutely, positively can't wait another minute before you plant something in the earth, perennial blooming plants, such as artemisia, coreopsis, gaillardia, penstemon, salvia, and wallflowers, can be set out now. If you wait a bit longer, these same plants will be available in 4-inch pots at a dramatic savings.

Fertilize Lawns

Give lawns a wake-up call by applying fertilizer now. Fertilizer high in nitrogen will promote lush new growth but also may encourage some fungus diseases. Mow prior to applying fertilizer, and water immediately after application. Don\'t forget to sweep walks and driveways after applying fertilizer to prevent stains.

Watch for Oak Moth Caterpillars

Oak moth caterpillars will be hatching soon. Look for small, green worms hanging on silken webs. If there appears to be an infestation of caterpillars that the birds can't control, apply Bacillus thuringiensis in spray form when the caterpillars are active in the morning hours.

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