In spite of the recent cold weather, we can say that spring is definitely here. The days are getting appreciably longer and trees and plants that have been dormant during the winter are pushing out bright green leaves and shoots. There is no better time than NOW to plant, transplant or sow seeds. There is lots to do in the garden this month so roll up your sleeves and enjoy it!
Pull weeds and snails: The recent rains have given the ground a good soaking which makes weeds and snails very happy! Hand pull weeds while the ground is wet and then use a pre-emergent such as Amaze to prevent weeds from germinating. Hand pick snails off your plants just before dawn. Locate their daytime hiding places ― usually strap-leafed plants like daylilies or agapanthus ― and handpick regularly. Use a snail bait such as Sluggo, which is safe in the vegetable garden and around pets or children.
Sow seeds before it rains:
Now is an excellent time to sow spring veggie seeds If rain is forecast sow vegetable and annual flower seeds before it arrives. Nothing excites seeds as much as rain!
If you want to know everything about growing spring veggies come to our free class on Saturday March 12 at 10 AM at the Garden Center.
Buy tomato plants: Tomatoes grow well in the ground or in large pots. Tomatoes need heat to produce flowers and fruit, but during these early months they will develop a large root system that will make for stronger plants in the summer. At Deep Roots we have several varieties that have been adapted to our coastal climtate. This year why not try "San Francisco Fog", a variety whose name speaks for itself! We will be bringing in different varieties of heirloom tomato plants with each shipment so check back often fo exciting varieites long held secret!
Attract good bugs: To keep insect pests under control in your vegetable garden, lure in their natural enemies ― hoverflies, lacewings (photo left), ladybugs, and parasitic wasps ― by planting the nectar plants they love, such as aster, chamomile, coreopsis, cosmos, feverfew, marigold, scabiosa, and yarrow.
Grow fruit trees: March is a great time to plant citrus trees. If you have limited space plant dwarf varieties which grow well in large containers. Grow citrus trees in FULL SUN. Citrus trees thrive in sun and heat so growing them in full sun is especially important along the coast. At Deep Roots we have recently had a delivery of dwarf citrus trees including the wonderful Meyer Lemon. Prepare the ground or the container well, sprinkle some Citrus Tree Fertilizer in with the soil before you plant. Citrus trees are heavy feeders and need regular fertilizing to produce flowers and fruit.
Start an herb garden: Plant chives, parsley, rosemary, sage, savory, tarragon, thyme, and my all time favorite herb - Winter Savory. Arugula, chervil, cilantro, and dill can also be grown successfully from seed.
Acidify hydrangeas: To keep your blue-flowered hydrangea blue, acidify the soil now and every few weeks until bloom time. If you don't do this the hydrangeas will revert to pink. Apply aluminum sulfate, which is often packaged expressly for hydrangeas, following label directions. At Deep Roots we have Growmore's Hydrangea Blueing formula in stock now.
Feed plants: Almost all plants appreciate added nutrients at this time of year. They are just about to begin a growth surge and like a runner before a marathon, they can use the extra food. Feed fruit and ornamental trees, shrubs (except camellias ― wait until after bloom), lawns, container plants, houseplants, perennials, ground-covers, and annuals that have been in the ground for six weeks or more. If rain is forecast get out into the garden and fertilize everything with a slow release granular fertilizer and let the rain soak it in.
What To Plant: Plant warm-season annual flowers and vegetables (tomatoes, peppers, marigolds, petunias ) and citrus and other subtropicals. Once the soil has warmed to 60 degrees F, sow seeds for corn, cucumbers, green beans, squashes, and other heat-lovers. 60 degrees F means the soil is warm enough for you to walk on it comfortably barefoot.
Continue to mow your lawn: Mow fast growing lawns regularly and at the right height. It's the best thing you can do to control weeds and keep grass thick and healthy. Now, during cool weather, mow cool-season lawns such as bluegrass, ryegrasses, or fescues at 2 inches or so. During periods of hot weather set the mower at 3 inches. Mow warm-season grasses such as Bermuda, St. Augustine, and zoysia at 2 inches throughout the growing season.
Divide Perennials: Divide most perennials once they've sent up significant foliage at least a couple inches tall. Divide them if they are getting crowded (reduced blooms, a dead spot in the middle) or you simply want more plants.
Deadhead: Deadhead spent flower heads on spring-blooming bulbs to direct their energy back to their roots so they can build vigor for next year. However, if the bulbs were pre-chilled, such as tulips, don't bother. They won't, unfortunately, be returning in any case.
Fertilize: Fertilize roses and perennials and keep them watered as needed, especially new plantings. Fertilize citrus and avocado trees now and continue throughout the warm months of the year.
Containers: Plant colorful flowers in containers to brighten up your entryway or the view from your family room. Mix in some slow release fertilizer such as any of the organic formulations by Dr. Earth with the soil before you plant. Good plants for long term bloom include nemesia, calibrachoa (Million Bells), Osteospermum (African Daisies), and geraniums. Fertilize these regularly, too, with a half-strength fertilizer.
Regularly Harvest: Keep picking your cool-season crops, such as peas, lettuces, and spinach. It will encourage more production. Continue to plant successions of these fast-growers for production over the next several weeks.
Mulch: Replenish mulch where it has disappeared and add a layer to new areas so that it's 2-3 inches deep. Mulching well helps to prevent weeds from taking root and helps to conserve water in the soil so you don't have to water quite as often. Be careful to avoid mounding the mulch against the stems or trunks of your plants.
Fuchsia: Pink the tips of fuchsias and other woody perennials to make them bushier. Cut back fuchsias that have become leggy as they bloom on new wood.
Camelias: Prune camellias and subtropical hibiscus after they're done blooming. Feed camelias with an acid loving fertilizer to keep their leaves dark green
Houseplants: Move houseplants outdoors or out from protected spots once the weather warms up a little. Wash them off with a gentle shower of water. Keep them outside for the summer in a shady spot. Too much sun will scald the leaves.
Control bugs: If conditions are dry, spider mites may well be starting to take hold. Control them by giving affected plants a strong daily blast with the hose, being sure to get underneath the leaves. This has the nice side effect of also reducing aphid populations. If mites persist spray with an organic oil spray such as Neem Oil.
Free Gardening Classes
We hold free gardening classes on Saturday mornings. Classes will be given by Jon or Barbara. Our full schedule will be up on our web site on an ongoing basis but here is a tentative list of classes. (Subject to change):
March 12 - Spring Veggies 101
March 26 - Tomatoes 101
April 9 - New Plants for 2011. Brand new plants for this region, not easily found elsewhere
April 30 - Native and Drought tolerant plants. Why are California Natives so scarce?
May 14 - Beneficial insects
So bring your questions and your notebook! No need to sign up just come along to Deep Roots Nursery. Classes start at 10:00 AM