Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

October, 2011
Regional Report

Groom Lawns

Lawns develop a layer of thatch during the growing season. Thatch is the build up of fallen grass blades that create a barrier above the soil and prevent roots from getting what they need. Water and fertilizer can not penetrate the built up layer of thatch, but luckily, it's easy to remove. Use a metal bow rake and rake heavily in only one direction pull up the dead thatch. Don't worry if it looks like you are pulling up the existing turf, it will recover quickly. Rake the thatch into a pile and add it to your compost bin. After dethatching the lawn, water and fertilize.

Deep Water Trees and Shrubs

The rainy season is still a couple of months away. Help trees, especially redwoods, and shrubs stay in good condition by watering them deeply using a soaker hose. The soaker-type hose will keep the water where it will do the most good, which is directly over the roots, driving them deeper into the soil to ensure they are in touch with the natural soil moisture level, deep in the ground. Deep watering once a month during the dry season should be on every gardener's list of chores.

Harvest Herbs

Harvest mature herbs such as oregano, basil, and parsley while the dew is still on the leaves for maximum flavor. Herbs can be spread on a cookie sheet, then frozen and finally stored in a plastic bag for use during the winter months. Another way to store herbs for use in sauces and soups is to fill ice cube trays with chicken stock, then add a teaspoon of your favorite herb medley to the individual cups. Once frozen, remove from the frozen herb cubes and store in plastic bags in the freezer.

Cut Back Overgrown Perennial Plants

Perennials such as Mexican sage (Salvia leucantha) have the bad habit of outgrowing their space during the growing season. Feel confident that you can cut them back to ground zero and still get another flush of bloom before the dormant season sets in. Mulch, then fertilize with cottonseed meal or liquid fish after cutting.

Cut Whips from Vining Plants

Grapes and wisteria immediately come to mind, but other aggressive vines such as kiwi and certainly ivy need guidance during the growing season. Long "whips" will quickly take over roof lines and escape into trees and power lines if not removed. Cut long stems back to the main trunk whenever possible. Use a pole pruner for hard to reach stems.

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