Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

May, 2009
Regional Report

Purchase Azaleas and Rhododendrons

This is the ideal time to purchase and plant rhododendrons and azaleas. Buying when the plants are in bloom means that you can choose exactly the color you want for your garden. Rhodies and azaleas should be planted high in the soil with as much as 1/3 of the root ball showing above the surface. Dig a wide, shallow hole and set the plant in place, filling in the hole with redwood chips, lava rock and compost for perfect drainage. No fertilizer until you begin to see new growth.

Thin Apples

When the young apples on your tree are the size of a large marble, thin to one fruit every six inches along the stem. This process takes a lot of time, but will reward you with large fruit at harvest time.

Release Ladybugs

Purchase and release lady bugs to control aphids on artichokes and roses. Remember to water your garden well prior to releasing the insects. The ladybugs are very thirsty from traveling in that container for so long. Once they have a drink they will be very hungry and begin almost immediately on your aphid problem. Dusk or dawn is the best time to release so that hungry birds don't snatch up the ladybugs.

Plant Summer Blooming Bulbs

Although it's late, plant summer-blooming bulbs such as dahlia, daylily, tigridia, and Oriental and Asiatic lilies now. Dig a nice hole, amend the back fill with organic compost and super phosphate and plant bulbs in a sunny location. Summer-blooming bulbs are carefree and an inexpensive way to add color to your garden beds.

Keep Mowers Fungus Free

Wash lawn mowers with bleach to prevent the spread of fungus disease. After every mowing, turn the mower on its side and wash the underside including the blade with water from the hose. Once the grass clippings are gone, use a spray bottle filled with a 10 percent bleach solution to kill any lingering fungus spores.

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