Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
Prune Evergreen Shrubs
Existing evergreen shrubs benefit from early season pruning. By thinning the growth from the center of the plant just before the active growing season, you increase air circulation and light. Plants will respond with a lush burst of growth in a few weeks. First remove any dead, diseased, or injured wood from the plant, then remove several branches instead of clipping the outside foliage with hedge shears. Prune by following the branch back to the main stem and removing it flush with the trunk.
Spray Dormant Plants
Smother overwintering insect eggs by spraying deciduous trees and shrubs with a dormant oil or copper/oil spray before new growth begins. Apply lime sulfur spray to roses or other deciduous plants that are susceptible to fungus problems. Always wear protective clothing, including gloves, boots, and goggles, when spraying. Don't apply spray on windy or rainy days.
Plant Cool-Season Crops
Plant peas, sweet peas, broccoli, cabbage, and lettuce. Guard them carefully when they first emerge from the soil. Hungry birds as well as snails and slugs just love to eat seedlings so protect emerging seedlings with a layer of netting and some sort of snail barrier.
Improve Garden Beds
It's almost planting season. This is the perfect opportunity to improve the existing soil in your garden beds by adding organic compost. It will improve any kind of garden soil, including clay and sand. Compost is available at garden centers and nursery supply stores, or even better, make your own from garden debris and kitchen scraps. If the soil is wet, simply lay the amendment on the surface to till in later when the soil is workable.
Begin Watering Indoor Cacti
If your indoor cactus plants have been on reduced rations for the winter months, now is the time to start watering again. You should begin to see some activity in the way of new growth beginning at the end of this month. As soon as you see the plants beginning to grow, start watering. You can fertilize lightly with fish emulsion to promote bloom.