Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

December, 2009
Regional Report

Plant Spring-Blooming Bulbs

It's time to put your spring-blooming bulbs into the ground. Daffodils, tulips, hyacinth, narcissus, and crocus should be planted in full sun or under deciduous trees. The bulbs should go in pointed end up and a small amount of super phosphate fertilizer should be placed in each planting hole. Scatter bulbs on the surface prior to planting and plant where they fall for a natural look.

Plant Sweet Peas

Sweet peas (Lathyrus spp.) do best when planted in late fall. Select a sunny site against a south-facing wall or fence. Amend the soil with composted manure or organic compost to a depth of 12 inches. Soak seed overnight to accelerate germination. Sow seed in rows according to label directions and stand back! Protect from hungry birds as seed begins to germinate.

Mulch Perennial Borders

Perennial plants will benefit from a layer of organic compost spread an inch or two deep over the surface of the soil. The compost will leach into the soil with the winter rain providing nutrients and, in addition, insulate the roots from cold weather.

Care for House Plants

As the outside temperatures drop, the heater goes on inside the house. Dry, warm air is the ideal condition for spider mite, mealy bug, and scale insects to thrive. Check indoor plants frequently for insect infestation and treat with a soap/oil spray if they are present. Mist plants frequently to keep humidity high or use a humidity tray made by placing gravel in the saucer under each plant. Water collects in the gravel and evaporates back up through the foliage providing much needed humidity, while preventing the roots from sitting in water. Most tropical indoor plants require a resting period during the winter when watering is reduced. Allow the soil to go slightly dry between watering.

Wild Bird Care

Keep bird baths full and clean for migrating birds. Keeping feathers clean in winter is critical for proper insulation. Birds will appreciate your effort in their behalf. Make sure that bird baths are in a sunny location with some protective cover near by. There should be an open area directly below the bird bath so that they can spot hungry predators. A rock placed in the bath will allow smaller varieties of birds to have access to the water.

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