Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

December, 2010
Regional Report

Cultivate Compacted Soil

Annual plantings appreciate cultivation, pansies in particular. Use a cultivating tool to open the surface of the soil several inches. Cultivation allows air and nutrients to reach the roots, prevents weeds from growing and gives the garden a "cared for" look.

Slugs and Snails, Oh My!

Until the weather gets really cold, slugs and snails will be on the move. Remove hiding places by keeping fallen foliage raked up. Hand pick snails and place them in a secure container for disposal. They are escape artists. Put away uneaten pet food. Slugs are opportunists and will take advantage of a free meal when available.

Purchase Amaryllis (Hippeastrum)

Amaryllis (Hippeastrum) bulbs are on sale now at garden centers and nurseries. Select a large bulb with the papery covering intact. Plant in a container several inches larger than the bulb, using rich soil. Water immediately after planting. Set the bulb in a sunny location and stand back. Amaryllises are very fast growing and will reward you with a dinner plate - sized bloom in a few weeks. These hardy bulbs make wonderful gifts for the gardener (hint, hint...)

Care for Garden Tools

Next month pruning begins in earnest, so clean and sharpen clippers and saws now so that they are ready for action. To clean and sharpen your cutting tools you will need a flat file, a round file and some lubricating spray such as WD40. If you like, you can treat wooden handles to a coating of linseed oil. After sharpening, use a lubricating oil on all moving parts and clean the blades with a wire brush to remove any dirt or debris.

Shop for Bare Root Bargains

Bare root plants will start showing up in nurseries and garden centers this month. Bare root is the most economical and stress-free (from the plants point of view) way to plant, plus it has the benefit of allowing plants to adapt to native soils. Look for roses, fruit trees, berries and asparagus, plus many other varieties of dormant or deciduous stock. If you can't plant right away, store the bare root plants in damp moss so that the roots don't dry out.

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