Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

January, 2012
Regional Report

Shop for Bare Root Bargains

If you have been thinking of making a few permanent additions to your garden, bare root planting is the most economical and plant-friendly way to do that. Bare root plants are deeply dormant and will not suffer from transplant shock. They are also economical because they ship much more easily than container stock. Plants such as fruit trees, roses, vegetable crops such as artichokes and asparagus, and berries are available as bare root stock. Bare root planting is a good way to try something new in your garden without a large expenditure of money. Bare root plants are available in nurseries and on-line now.

Top Dress Lawns

Apply a thin layer of organic compost or composted steer manure to lawns. Work it into the surface with the back side of a metal bow rake. The new compost will act like a mulch and prevent weeds from germinating while enriching the soil at the same time.

Plant Plenty of Sweet Peas!

Sweet peas (Lathryus) should be planted while the soil is still cool. For an amazing spring display, plant sweet pea seeds in a sunny location with deep soil rich in organic matter. Sweet peas will eventually need support, so plant them near a fence or provide a trellis. Try planting perennial sweet peas (L. latifolius). The foliage is a handsome blue-green, and the plants will bloom throughout the summer. Sweet pea seeds have tough coverings so soaking overnight prior to planting is recommended.

Prune Fruit Trees

Apples, pears, plums, cherries, apricots, and other backyard fruit trees benefit from an annual dormant season pruning. Remove all water sprouts (thin branches that grow straight up). Thin the center of the tree so that there are no rubbing or crossing branches and to allow light to reach the fruit growing in the middle of the branching structure. Finally, prune to manage height. Reduce the overall height of fruit trees so that you can easily reach the fruit at harvest time!

Apply Dormant Season Sprays

When you have completed your dormant season pruning, apply a spray of copper/oil or lime/sulfur to kill overwintering insect pests and fungus diseases. Mix the copper or lime mixture in a hose-end sprayer, and thoroughly cover all branches and surrounding soil. It is very important to keep the ground clean under fruit trees to prevent future insect infestations.

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