Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

March, 2013
Regional Report

Sow Seed of Lots of Lettuces

For an attractive array of lettuce flavors, textures, and colors, choose varieties from as many as you can find -- dark greens, light greens, reds, bronzes, multi-colored and speckled varieties, butterhead, looseleaf, romaine, and crisphead. Sow a small amount every three weeks for continuous harvests of young, sweet succulent leaves and heads from spring through fall. For plantings that will mature during hot weather, choose varieties that are heat and bolt resistant.

Innoculate Peas

Peas and other legumes will grow better when seeds are dusted with an inoculant of nitrogen-fixing bacteria at planting time. One way to coat the seeds is to pour them into the package of inoculant powder, fish them out, and plant them. Wetting the inoculant slightly makes more of it to stick to the seeds. I find it quicker and less messy to sprinkle a line of inoculant directly into the furrow, place the seeds on top of it, then gently draw the soil over the seeds, and water it all in.

Pluck Off Strawberry Blooms

Snip off early strawberry blossoms -- even through May or whenever the warm weather has settled in for good -- to concentrate the plant's first real burst of fruiting energy into large sweet berries rather than small tart ones. Unless, of course, you're desperately waiting for that very first berry, even if it is tart.

Plant Subtropical Fruit Trees

Citrus and avocado trees do best when they're planted from late this month through May, as the weather warms up. Choose a southwest exposure that is protected from the wind for the best protection from cold weather and frost. Plant trees on a mound or in a raised bed so water drains away from the roots. Rub suckers off trunks as they appear. Remove any broken branches. Paint trunks and large limbs with a matte-finish, off-white interior latex paint mixed half and half with water to prevent sunscald of the tender trunks.

Irrigate Deeply But Less Frequently

Teach your plants to grow deeply in search of moisture. On average soils, water deeply only once every two to three weeks in spring. By the time summer's heat arrives, the plants' feeder roots will have grown deep into the soil in their quest for moisture, and the plants won't need watering more frequently than once a week during very hot spells.

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