Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

April, 2009
Regional Report

Prune Spring-Blooming Shrubs

Once spring-blooming shrubs such as spirea and bridal veil have completed their bloom, prune to shape. Encouraging more branches to form by tip pruning will increase the bloom for next year. As always, remove any dead, diseased or injured wood, any crossing or rubbing branches and finally, prune for shape. Once new growth begins to appear, fertilize with a balanced product such as Osmocote.

Wait to Plant Tomatoes!

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 through 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.

Last Chance for Cool Season Planting

This is your last chance 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.

Inspect Irrigation Systems

Turn on and inspect all irrigation systems. Tiny nozzles are perfect hiding places for earwigs, slugs, and 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 the order they came apart. Dirty valves mean leaky systems which waste precious water.

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