Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

April, 2008
Regional Report

Plant Tomatoes

If the soil has warmed in your garden, go ahead and put in your tomatoes. Plant in full sun, in rich, fast-draining soil. For best results, use a landscape fabric to trap heat because tomatoes like it hot. Strip the lower leaves from the seedling plants and dig a deep hole. Set the transplant in the hole so only the top leaves are above the surface of the soil. New roots will form along the underground portion of the stem. Select from a wide variety of plants including my favorites, 'Sungold', 'Big Beef', and 'Early Girl'.

Fertilize Turf Grass

Spring is the ideal time to fertilize lawns. The thicker the turf, the fewer problems you will have with weeds. Use a slow-release fertilizer formulated specifically for turf grass, which will provide the necessary nutrients to produce a thick carpet of grass.

Watch for Signs of Fungus Disease

Spring days are warm and the nights are still chilly -- ideal conditions for fungus disease to develop. Look for powdery patches, black or rust-colored spots on the foliage. You can control fungus by watering only in the morning hours, which will give plants time to dry before the sun goes down. Plants susceptible to fungus should never be watered overhead; only apply water to the soil and never the foliage. Keep fallen debris raked up from plants, which will also eliminate hiding places for insect pests. Fertilizers high in nitrogen tend to develop weak foliage that is susceptible to fungus and insect attack.

Control Aphid Infestations

Look for infestations of aphids on new tender growth of roses. If you find large colonies, wash the foliage with a strong jet of water or purchase ladybugs from your garden center and release them in the evening hours after watering the garden well.

Pick Sweet Pea Flowers

Glorious bouquets of heavenly scented flowers are the reason for growing these early-spring annuals. Sweet peas (Lathyrus) benefit from a weekly gathering of blossoms. The more flowers you cut, the more the plant will produce. As a matter of fact, the common name in Holland is "Cut & Cut Again." Once the plant is allowed to go to seed, flower production will cease. Cut the flowers at the base of the stem near the vine.

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