Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

May, 2010
Regional Report

Make Your Own Fertilizer

I like to give my plants a variety of fertilizers. I wouldn't want to eat spaghetti every day and figure plants don't want the same thing all the time either. One of the fertilizer treatments I use is Moo Tea. I fill the leg of an old pair of panty hose with steer manure and place it in a 5 gallon bucket of water overnight. The following morning I pour the solution into a watering can and apply it to my annuals, vegetables and perennials. Everybody in my garden seems to like my cookin'!

Bug Watch

May brings the warm weather and hatching insects to coincide with nesting birds who have families to feed. As the soil warms, eggs hatch and insects come to life with voracious appetites. This is the time of year when army worms, tent caterpillars, grubs and white flies make their seasonal debut. The best offense is a good defense, so be on the look out for signs of infestation. If you only have a few insects, live and let live. If you notice an infestation, rake the area clean, wash the foliage and treat with a soap and oil spray.

Prune Gently

Don't do any large pruning jobs right now. One reason is that the sap is flowing and any major cuts may seriously injure ornamental shrubs and fruit trees. Another reason is that the birdies are nesting now. Birds are a glorious companions to any garden because they eat insects, even more when they have a hungry family to feed.

Weed Patrol

Pull them, mow them, but whatever you do, please don't spray them. Mowing weeds is actually good for the soil because they decompose and act like mulch and compost. Mowing also provides nesting material for birds. Pulling is best, especially if you throw the residue of your labor into the compost pile. Weeds surrender easily if the soil is slightly damp. Grasp the weed by the base near the soil and pull gently. You may need to use a weed knife to get under the roots of some hard to control weeds such as dandy lions and belladonna.

Plant Giant Pumpkins

Now is the ideal time to get your prize winning pumpkin off to a good start for fall harvest. Search for 'Atlantic Giant' seeds on the Internet.
Select a site in full sun with excellent soil. If the soil is less than perfect, add plenty of organic compost and incorporate it into the existing soil to a depth of at least 24". Protect young pumpkin plants from slugs and snails and stand back! These plants need plenty of room. Roots grow where the soil is damp, so pour on the water - the larger the root area, the stronger the plant. Once blooms begin to form, hand pollinate the female flowers (female flowers have a swollen bulb at the base) to ensure a successful harvest.

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