Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

January, 2008
Regional Report

Purchase Summer-Blooming Bulbs

Nurseries have a large selection of summer-blooming bulbs available now including cannas, calla lilies, gladiolus, lilies, iris, and tuberoses. Wait until mid-February to plant. Select a site in full sun, and amend the soil, if necessary, with compost, perlite, and vermiculite to a depth of 8 to 10 inches. The soil must be well drained to prevent the bulbs from rotting in the remaining wet weather.

Tend Cymbidium Orchids

Check around cymbidium orchids for evidence of snails and slugs. Fertilize lightly with liquid fish emulsion to keep the bloom spikes strong. Do not allow plants to stand in water-filled saucers for longer than 1/2 hour.

Top-Dress Perennial Vegetables

Add a 2- to 3-inch layer of well-rotted manure or organic compost over dormant asparagus and rhubarb beds. The plants will reward you with abundant, delicious new growth in a few weeks time.

Prune Hydrangeas

Now is the time to groom and prune hydrangeas. Remove all but the previous season's growth, which can be identified by its shiny, fawn-colored bark. Older wood is white or gray in color. Flowers form on last year's wood. Prune plants low to the ground; 24 to 36 inches is ideal. Rake up and remove fallen leaves and debris from under the plants, and fertilize around the base of the plants with aluminum sulfate for blue flowers or superphosphate for red.

Sow Peas

Peas are a cool-season crop, best planted when the soil is still cool to the touch. Presoak seeds in damp paper towels for best germination. Plant in deep, loose soil that has been amended with organic compost. Provide support in the form of a trellis or wire pea cage. Protect young seedlings from hungry snails.

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