Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

April, 2008
Regional Report

Care for Spring-Flowering Bulbs

Remove the faded flowers from daffodils or tulips that you intend to save for next year. By removing the spent flowers, all the energy that would have gone into forming a seed will be used instead for making the bulb strong for next year. Once you have removed the flowers, feed the bulb plants with a balanced fertilizer. Treat them as if they were an honored guest in your garden, watering and fertilizing regularly. Once the foliage begins to yellow, withhold water until the tops are completely dry. At that point, either dig and store the bulbs until fall, or remove the foliage, which should pull away easily, and leave the bulbs in the ground.

Inspect Irrigation Systems

Turn on and inspect all irrigation systems. Tiny nozzles are perfect hiding places for earwigs, slugs, or pill bugs. Blocked nozzles will not deliver water to thirsty plants. Remove heads from sprinklers if necessary to flush the system. Clean control panels by removing spider webs with a small brush. If valves are gritty, dismantle and clean, being careful to make note of how they came apart so you can put them back together. Dirty valves mean leaky systems that waste precious water.

Wait to Plant Warm-Season Crops

The urge is strong but try to wait until the soil has warmed to the touch before you put your tomatoes, peppers, and corn in the ground. These are warm-season plants that need heat to develop properly. If you can't possibly wait one more second, use a miniature greenhouse made of clear plastic to provide additional warmth for young plants.

Compost Pea Plants

Nothing makes better compost than members of the pea family. Cut vines into small pieces after the plants are finished bearing, and toss into the compost pile or leave on the surface of the soil to act as a mulch. Leave the roots in the ground where the nitrogen nodules can benefit the next crop.

Finish Planting Cool-Season Crops

This is your last opportunity to plant cool-season crops such as cilantro, lettuce, and peas before hot weather sets in. Plant from seed or cell packs. Protect young plants from voracious slugs and snails by surrounding planting beds with copper tape or fireplace ashes.

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