Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

February, 2012
Regional Report

Harvest Citrus

Citrus trees such as tangerines, lemons, oranges and kumquats only ripen on the tree, not after picking. Knowing when to harvest can be tricky because oranges, for example, need cool nights to develop their orange color. If nighttime temps are higher than normal, the fruit may remain green but be perfectly ripe inside. The fruit holds best on the tree, so pick what you need and leave the rest. Harvest by twisting and pulling at the same time or clip stems with shears.

Support Climbers with Clothespins

Support sagging climbers such as peas or sweet peas with clothespins. Slip a piece of string through the spring on a clothespin, tie the string around a stout stem, then clip the pin to the trellis or support. You can easily move the pin rather than retying the string. Often, retying sagging plants results in broken stems and tangled foliage. This neat trick reduces the damage.

Sit Down on the Job

Pruning low growing deciduous plants can be back-breaking work. Make it easy on yourself by bringing a folding chair or low stool into the garden. Most plants are easily accessible from chair level, so make life easy and have a seat!

Sow Cool Season Vegetables

Sow seeds for peas, sweet peas, cilantro, broccoli, cabbage, and kale. Pea seeds have dense coatings and will need to be soaked prior to planting. Protect new plantings from hungry snails, slugs, and rabbits by covering with floating row covers.

Prune Hydrangeas

Now is the time to groom and prune hydrangeas. Remove all but the previous seasons growth, which can be identified by its shiny, fawn-colored bark. Flowers form in year-old wood. Prune plants low to the ground; 24-36" is ideal. Leave the center of the plant open for maximum air circulation. Rake up and remove fallen leaves and debris from under the plants and finally, fertilize around the drip line with aluminum sulfate if you want blue flowers or super phosphate if you prefer red.

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