Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

February, 2010
Regional Report

Weed!

Pull weeds before they go to seed. Warmer weather and longer days mean that things are starting to grow, including the weeds. Weeds rob nutrients and water from valuable garden plants and just plain look untidy. It's easiest to pull them while the soil is still moist, so get out there! Compost annual weeds that have not developed seeds.

Improve Garden Beds

It's almost planting season. This is the perfect opportunity to improve the existing soil in your garden beds by adding organic compost. Organic compost will improve any kind of garden soil including clay and sand. It is available at garden centers and nursery supply stores, or even better, make your own from garden debris and kitchen scraps. If the soil is wet, simply lay the amendment on the surface to till in later when the soil is workable.

Plant Spring Blooming Annuals

While the soil is still cool, plant early spring blooming annuals from nursery cell packs. Calendula, English daisies, fairy primroses, Iceland poppies, pansies, snap dragons, stock and violas will brighten your winter dreary garden. Use a slow release fertilizer in the soil at planting time to get young plants off to a good start. If you desire, plant annuals in large containers using fresh potting soil.

Prune Fuchsias

Prune frost tender fuchsias just as winter comes to an end. Pruning stimulates new growth, so by waiting until late in the season, you eliminate the danger of frost damage. Fuchsias can withstand severe pruning. Hanging plants can be cut back to several inches from the surface of the soil. Leave a basic 5-branch framework so that new growth has good shape.

Prune Deciduous Trees

Prune and shape deciduous trees (apples, cherries, crape myrtle) while they are still dormant. Start by using a pole pruner to remove any dead, diseased or injured wood. Next, remove any growth that crosses through the center of the branching structure to improve air circulation.
Double trunks or weak crotches should be identified and removed. When removing large branches, make your cut on the outer side of the branching collar. The branching collar is an area of slightly wrinkled wood at the base of each branch. It is a fast growing bark that covers wounds in a short period of time. If you remove a branch too close to the trunk, the tree may take longer to heal and allow insect pests, canker and fungus disease to develop.
Finally, make heading cuts on the small outer branches to reduce the overall size of the tree and direct new growth.

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