Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

February, 2002
Regional Report

Weeds are Invading

In case you hadn\'t noticed, weeds are growing like crazy right now. With all the rain we have had and a few sunny days, they are making a sneak appearance in a garden near you. Pull them now, before they can become established and set seed. Weeds steal nutrients from your garden plants. If they are tall enough, they also steal the available sunlight. But you never let your weeds get out of hand, do you?

Stampeding Snails

Along with the appearance of weeds come the stampeding herds of snails and slugs. These voracious creatures will break your heart if left unchecked. Eliminate the snail\'s hiding places by keeping your garden beds clean and raked. Try controlling slugs and snails with copper foil, diatomaceous earth, fireplace ashes, handpicking or a combination of all of the above. If they get out of hand, use one of the newer iron-phosphate-based snail baits. They can be expensive, but they work well and are safer than traditional chemical slug baits.

Plant Cool Season Crops

Plant peas, sweet peas, broccoli, cabbage, and lettuce. Guard them carefully when they first emerge from the soil. Hungry birds as well as snails and slugs just love to eat seedlings so protect emerging seedlings with a layer of netting and some sort of snail barrier.

Organic Cure for Peach Leaf Curl!

Organic gardeners have found that planting garlic, onions and other members of the allium family under peach trees seems to make those trees less susceptible to peach leaf curl. Peach leaf curl is a fungal disease that affects peach and nectarine trees. It is worse in cool, wet springs. Rake up and dispose of fallen leaves of infected trees.

Start Your Summer Garden Indoors

Start tomato seeds indoors now to plant outside as soon as the soil is warm in the spring. Fill a seed-starting tray with fresh potting soil and water it well prior to planting the seeds. Dig a shallow (1/4-inch deep) furrow across the surface of the soil, then shake seeds from the packet directly into the furrow. Barely cover the seeds with a light dusting of fresh potting soil, mist generously and cover with clear plastic. Place the seed tray in a sunny, warm location until seeds germinate. After germination, increase air circulation inside the plastic cover and keep moist by misting. \'San Francisco Fog,\' \'Early Girl,\' \'Big Beef\' and \'Ace\' are varieties of slicing tomatoes that do well in this region.

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