Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

March, 2009
Regional Report

Eliminate Problem Plants

If you have a plant in your garden that has been balky or hasn't preformed the way you expected, get rid of it now! Gardening is supposed to be rewarding and fun so why fight a plant that isn't doing its best. By eliminating the poor performers, you can use the water on the proven winners, besides making room for something that will do better once the drought is over. Try colorful drought tolerant plants such as saliva, verbena, monarda, and raphiolepsis.

Mulch, Mulch, Mulch

Even if you don't like the look, apply a thick layer of mulch to help your garden withstand drought. Mulch keeps the surface of the soil cool and prevents moisture from evaporating. It also prevents weeds from growing. Organic mulches, such as bark chips, eventually break down and enrich the soil with nitrogen and micronutrients, meaning that you don't have to fertilize as often. Commercial mulches look nice and do the job, but even if you only use thick pads of newspaper to cover the soil you will protect your good landscape plants from an untimely death.

Cymbidium Care

Once your cymbidium orchids have finsihed blooming, switch them to a high nitrogen fertilizer for the summer. A 22-14-14 formulation will encourage new foliage growth and get the plants ready for next season. Cymbidiums can withstand some drought. If the pseudo bulbs look wrinkled, you are probably underwatering.

Awaken Indoor Plants

Give house plants a wake up call with a 1/2-strength application of fertilizer, liquid fish emulsion if you can stand the strong smell. Drench pots to thoroughly moisten the root ball and wash foliage, including the undersides of the leaves, to remove any accumulated dust or insect pests. Refresh soil by top dressing with fresh potting soil or organic compost, making sure that you leave room to water.

Check Irrigation Systems

Turn on irrigation systems and check for blocked sprinkler heads. Remove heads and clean as necessary. Check to see that all heads are pointed in the correct direction instead of watering the sidewalk or driveway. Drip irrigation systems should be thoroughly flushed and new emitters installed as needed.

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Special Report - Garden to Table

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