Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

March, 2007
Regional Report

Harvesting Asparagus

Harvest asparagus spears when they're 3/8 inch wide or larger. Cut them no lower than soil level to avoid damaging the crown. Harvesting smaller spears or harvesting for too long a period, especially from young plants, weakens the plants and reduces later harvests. Be overgenerous to the young plants by not harvesting too much, and you'll be rewarded in future harvests.

Start Warm-Season Veggies

Cucumbers, eggplants, melons, and squash can be started indoors but they require special handling because they don't transplant well if their root systems are damaged. Sow several seeds in a large container, thin them to the single strongest plant when the second set of true leaves has developed, and -- when nighttime temperatures outside are moderate -- carefully transplant the entire unit after very gently removing the container.

Pruning Fuchsias

Fuchsias flower on new wood, so prune either severely for compact growth or lightly for a more draping appearance. Continue to pinch and groom fuchsias regularly throughout the season to direct new growth and encourage more blooming.

Give Tree Roots Wide Berth

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 soil a foot deep for that distance again further out. Incorporate some compost and other organic matter to help keep soil uncompacted. 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.

Start Fertilizing and Mowing the Lawn

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 blades 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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