Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

April, 2006
Regional Report

Ready, Set, Grow!

It's time to plant your vegetable garden. The soil has warmed sufficiently to encourage root growth on warm-season annuals. Corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, basil, and all those things that love the heat can go into the ground now. Protect new seedlings from hungry slugs and snails.

Fertilize Roses

Feed roses after they have completed their first bloom cycle. Use a balanced slow-release fertilizer, and mix in some chelated iron for good measure. Dibble the dry fertilizer onto the surface of the soil, then water. Repeat every four to six weeks during the summer.

Spread Mulch

To conserve water and to discourage weed growth, lay out a protective layer of mulch to cover the surface of the soil. Mulch can be anything from newspaper to pine needles to straw. If you have a large garden, call a tree service and ask if they will dump a load of chippings onto your driveway. The tree company will be glad to get rid of the debris, and you will have an unlimited source of excellent mulch for your garden. Or call your local public works department to see if they offer free mulch to residents.

Prune Spring-Flowering Shrubs

The very best time to prune spring-flowering shrubs is right after they finish blooming. Lilacs, forsythia, redbuds, weigelas, and spiraea all respond well to late-season pruning, plus you get to enjoy the full production flowers. If you had pruned in the fall, you would have lost a major portion of the bloom.

Remove Spent Flowers From Rhododendrons and Azaleas

This is a sticky job, but one that will pay vast rewards next year. By removing the spent flowers from azaleas and rhododendrons, you encourage new growth to sprout at the base of each flowerhead. With proper pinching, your plants will be lush and bushy instead of tall and leggy. The spent buds snap off easily between your thumb and forefinger. My advice: wear gloves.

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Special Report - Garden to Table

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