Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

February, 2009
Regional Report

Mark Cracked Sidewalks, Please

If the sidewalk in front of your house has lifted or is uneven due to surface tree roots, mark the uneven areas with brightly colored paint so that pedestrians have ample warning of the uneven surface. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Encourage tree roots to grow deeper into the soil by occasional deep watering with a soaker hose.

Improve Garden Beds

It's almost planting season. This is the perfect opportunity to improve the existing soil in your garden beds by adding compost. Organic compost will improve any kind of garden soil including clay and sand. It is available at garden centers and nursery supply stores, or even better, make your own from garden debris and kitchen scraps. If the soil is wet, simply lay the amendment on the surface to till in later when the soil is workable.

Prune Fuchsias

Prune frost-tender fuchsias just as winter comes to an end. Pruning stimulates new growth, so by waiting until late in the season, you eliminate the danger of frost damage. Fuchsias can withstand severe pruning. Hanging plants can be cut back to several inches from the surface of the soil. Leave a basic 5-branch framework so that new growth has good shape.

Fertilize Indoor Plants

Longer days are triggering your indoor plants into action. Apply fertilizer at 1/2 the recommended strength so that they have the nutrients necessary for growth without shocking them.

Provide Necessary Nutrients

Chemical fertilizer encourages rapid new growth which is more susceptible to insect, drought and frost damage. Instead of encouraging rapid growth, provide your plants with the nutrients they need by applying organic compost as a mulch to the surface of the soil. Each time you water, nutrients will be delivered to the roots as well as improving the structure of the existing soil. The earthworms will thank you too!

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