Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
Deadhead Spring-Flowering Bulbs
Daffodils or tulips that you intend to save for next year should have the faded flowers removed. Allowing them to form seeds saps valuable energy from the bulb. By removing the spent flowers, all the energy that would have gone into forming seeds will be used instead for making the bulb strong for next year. Once you have removed the flowers, feed the bulb plants with a balanced fertilizer. Treat them as if they were an honored guest in your garden, watering and fertilizing regularly. Once the foliage begins to yellow, withhold water until the tops are completely dry. At that point, either dig and store the bulbs until fall or remove the foliage, which should pull away easily, and leave the bulbs in the ground.
Remove Spent Flowers from Rhododendrons
This is a sticky job but one that has vast rewards next year. By removing the spent flowers from azaleas and rhododendrons, you encourage new growth to sprout at the base of each flower head. With proper pinching, your plants will be lush and bushy instead of tall and straggly. The spent buds snap off easily between your thumb and forefinger. Take my advice and wear gloves.
Don't do any large pruning jobs right now. One reason is that the sap is flowing and any major cuts can seriously injure ornamental and fruit trees. Another reason is that the birdies are nesting now. Birds are glorious companions to any garden because they eat insects -- even more when they have a hungry family to feed.
Compost Pea Plants
Nothing makes better compost than members of the pea family. Cut vines into small pieces after the plants are through bearing and toss into the compost pile or leave on the surface of the soil to act as mulch. Leave the roots in the ground where the nitrogen nodules can benefit the next crop.
Ready, Set, Plant!
It's time to plant your vegetable garden. The soil has warmed sufficiently to encourage root growth on warm-season annuals. Corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, basil, and all those things that love the heat can go into the ground now. Protect new seedlings from hungry slugs and snails.