Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

January, 2009
Regional Report

Pull Annual Weeds

Use a scuffle hoe to dislodge any annual weeds that have appeared (seemingly overnight) since the rains began. Weeds will quickly take over unless the roots are disturbed. If you get to them before they set seed, you don't need to remove the plants from the garden. Leave them to decompose and add nitrogen to the soil.

Cultivate Soil

Use a cultivating tool to open the surface of the soil. My favorite cultivating tool is a single-pronged hoe. It is easy to maneuver around bedding plants. Simply open the surface of the soil to a depth of 4 to 6 inches with the tool of your choice. Cultivation will provide oxygen to the roots and also dislodge weed seeds before they germinate. Pansies in particular thrive with cultivation.

Sharpen Pruning Tools

Dormant-season pruning is right around the corner. Sharpen and clean hand shears, saws, pole pruners, and loppers. Use a metal file along the beveled edge of the blade. Saws should have each tooth sharpened individually with a round file. Oil hinges and springs. Wooden handles should be cleaned with a scrub pad and then lightly coated with linseed oil.

Clean Under Daphne

Daphne is one of those finicky plants that fail for no apparent reason. Make sure that the main trunk of the plant is open to the air. Any fallen plant debris or built-up soil will promote fungus and block oxygen from reaching the delicate stem tissue. Pull the soil away from the trunk and expose about 1 inch of the buttress roots. I can't guarantee that this will keep your daphne alive, but it won't hurt either!

Bird Baths

Provide a source of clean water for migrating and resident wild birds. It's very important that birds keep their feathers clean in cold weather. Place the bird bath in a sunny location away from shrubs where predators can hide and also where you can view it from indoors. Bird baths rate a solid 10 on the entertainment scale.

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