Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

April, 2006
Regional Report

Watch for Insect Infestations

With the warm days, insect pests are beginning to hatch. Watch for infestations of aphids, oak caterpillars, and white flies. Keep plants clean by washing with a strong jet of fresh water from the hose and by keeping fallen debris raked up. Control insect pests only if it looks like the birds can't control the problem. Bugs are the preferred diet for most baby birds.

Inspect Irrigation Systems

It's that time of year. Turn on your irrigation systems to check for fouled nozzles and broken risers. Make sure sprinkler heads are pointed in the right direction. No sense in watering the driveway. Remove and unplug any heads that just dribble; there may be an earwig or slug stuck in the orifice.

Fertilize Annuals

To get the most out of your spring-blooming annuals, fertilize every two to three weeks with a water-soluble fertilizer. An analysis of around 15-30-15 will promote lush green foliage and a plenitude of flowers. Rinse plants lightly with fresh water after applying fertilizer to reduce the risk of fertilizer burn.

Set Out Nesting Materials

Birds are your garden's best friend. They eat a multitude of insect pests and should be encouraged to stay by setting out a variety of nesting material. Easter basket grass, bits of colorful yarn or string, clippings from vine plants, harvested long grass, raffia, or recycled ribbon will all be welcome during the busy nesting season. Hang nesting material in trees and shrubs in a recycled nylon net produce bag. Birdies can pick and choose as they please.

Patrol for Weeds and Slugs

The two most invasive pests in your garden right now are slugs and weeds. Think of them as the "Destructive Duo." Control both to promote a healthy garden. Every time you visit your garden, stoop over and pull two weeds. And every time you see a slug track, follow it and root out the culprit. Slugs like to hide under stones and bricks, so turn them over frequently so the birds can get at them!

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