Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

February, 2008
Regional Report

Prune Frost-Tender Plants

Fuchsias and hydrangeas may be pruned now. By the time they develop new growth, the danger of frost will be passed. Trim fuchsias to the bone; they only bloom on new growth. Be more sparing with hydrangeas because most bloom on second-year wood. Fertilize with a balanced product after pruning to encourage new growth.

Pull Weeds

Have you been in your garden lately? The weeds are growing gangbusters, especially the annual grasses such as poannua. Get them now before they go to seed. Weeds pull easily from damp soil. Grasp them firmly near the base, twist and pull in a steady, upward motion. Apply a thick layer of mulch after clearing an area of weeds to prevent their return. Have a weed-pulling party and award prizes for the most weeds pulled, the largest weed, and a booby prize for the loudest complainer!

Harvest Citrus

Harvest citrus when it pulls easily from the stem. Little or no tugging should be necessary. If a bit of peel is left behind on the stem, especially with tangerines, make sure you remove it. Rake fallen citrus from the ground beneath the tree to prevent fungus disease.

Wait to Prune Passionfruit Vine

Passionfruit vine is the winter home for the Gulf fritillary butterfly. What looks like a dead leaf may actually be a butterfly chrysalis. Wait until spring before pruning this particular plant. You may fertilize now with a slow-release, balanced fertilizer so there are tender new leaves for the hungry caterpillars when they awaken.

Sharpen Lawn Mower Blades

Sharpen or replace lawn mower blades before mowing season begins in earnest when the weather warms. A sharp blade cuts through long grass much more easily than a dull one. Remove the blade from the housing and sharpen with a file. Only the beveled edge needs to be sharpened. Spray with lubricating oil or cooking oil to prevent rust. New lawn mower blades are inexpensive to buy. Bring your old blade along with you to make sure you have the correct size. Make sure the nut holding the blade is tight when you replace it.

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