Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

April, 2009
Regional Report

Ready, Set, Plant!

It's time to put in your vegetable garden. The soil is warm enough for tomatoes, corn, peppers, and other heat loving annuals. Provide extra heat by surrounding new plants with black landscape fabric to absorb the heat of the sun. The landscape fabric has the added benefit of preventing weeds from growing and preserving soil moisture.

Mow Weeds

If you have a large vacant lot that's full of native grasses, mowing them now and allowing them to lay on the surface of the soil will give your soil a boost of nitrogen as the weeds slowly decompose. The weeds have already gone to seed, but you will reduce the possibilty of fire later in the summer. Mown weeds left on the ground act as a mulch to protect the surface of the soil. Don't throw all that good natural nitrogen away! At the very least, toss weeds that have not gone to seed into your compost pile.

Save Water

The number one, best way, to save water is to apply a 4- to 6-inch layer of mulch over the exposed soil in your garden. Mulch can be anything from thick pads of newspaper to expensive ground bark from the nursery. Personally, I like the look of the chippings from tree crews that has the added benefit of being free of charge. Contact your local Park and Rec Department to see if they will deliver a load of chippings to your garden. Some cities dump the chippings in a central location so that you can pick it up at your convenience.

Plant Something New

Even if you only have a tiny garden, plant something new this year. Last year I discovered the toad lily and was enchanted! Buy a plant you are not familliar with and follow the planting directions. Who knows, it might just win your heart. Some suggestions; canary bird vine (Tropaeolum peregrinum), hops (Humulus spp), or Mexican shell flower (Tigridia spp).

Wash Indoor Plants

An entire winter worth of dust has accumulated on the foliage of your indoor plants. Take them outside, set them in a shady location, and give them a shower, washing the undersides of the leaves to dislodge any pests that might be hiding there. Fertilize lightly, soaking the soil and then allow the plants to drain. Replace to their original positions before nightfall. If you don't have an outdoor location, you can put them in the bath tub, but be advised, this is a very messy process....

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