Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

May, 2012
Regional Report

Plant Tuberous Begonias

Tuberous begonias are easy to grow if you follow a few basic planting tips. The tuber should be planted so that the concave side is facing up and not covered by soil. The ideal planting medium is composted oak leaves, which is fast draining and supplies the nutrients necessary for either hanging or bedding tuberous begonias. Once new growth begins, fertilize every two weeks with 22-14-14 until buds form, then switch to 15-30-35 and continue with the same schedule.

Release Beneficial Insects

Lacewings and ladybugs are only two of the beneficial insects available to control the vegetarian bugs that are dining in your garden. Egg cases for praying mantis will hatch in warm weather. The larvae will then hunt and consume huge amounts of insect pests. Check for sources at your local garden center or on-line. Release according to instructions for best results.

Protect Newly Planted Vegetables

Cucumber, squash, zucchini, and other tasty vegetables can be protected while they are becoming established by covering with floating row covers. Made from light synthetic fabric, row covers allow water, air, and light to penetrate, but create a physical barrier to prevent insects from getting to your new plantings. Build a simple frame from PVC pipe or lay a tomato cage on it's side, being careful not to crush the young plants, to keep the fabric off the foliage. Secure the sides with stones or soil.

Aerate Turf Grass

Use a pitch fork or dedicated aeration tool to poke holes in turf grass. Holes will allow water, air, and nutrients to reach the roots of lawns and will help prevent fungal diseases from becoming established. If your lawn stands a few inches above the sidewalk, it might be time to consider de-thatching. Thatch consists of a dense layer of living and dead grass blades and roots that builds up between the soil surface and the lawn. Some thatch is normal, but too much can accumulate when overwatering, excessive nitrogen fertilization, and other environmental factors cause the organic matter to build up faster than it breaks down.

Get a Tetanus Booster

Check with your doctor to see if it's time for a tetanus booster shot. We gardeners are susceptible to tetanus because our hands are in the soil. You never know what you will encounter there. Protect yourself with a booster every 10 years, or however frequently your physician recommends.

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