Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
February, 2010
Regional Report

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The view from the deck at Henry's. Roses in containers are already beginning to show signs of new growth.

Spring Chores

The garden is looking lovely! I am slowly spreading redwood mulch over all the sleeping perennial beds, trying to leave spaces where the plants are, but some of them have really gone to ground this past winter. The bleeding heart Dicentra is totally invisible as are some of the more tender perennials such as the cardinal flower Lobelia cardinalis and the sea holly Eryngium. I hope the Eryngium comes back in the spring. I have it planted in a nice, sunny, spot with fast draining soil. They say that Eryngium is difficult to get started, but it can't be as hard as those darned peas!

Peas Are Sweet
Speaking of which, I have planted new pea seeds in tomato cages which I've covered with dry cleaner bags, thanks to one of your excellent suggestions. I have also replanted the all of sweet peas under hot hats along the south-facing fence. Hopefully both the peas and the sweet peas will grow large enough under cover to withstand whatever has been dining on them throughout the winter. This is my last effort. After this, I give up.

Weeds=Job Security
Things are beginning to grow. The buds on the roses are all beginning to swell and the weeds are coming up gangbusters everywhere, even in the containers up on the deck. Henry keeps bird feeders that contribute to the weed problem, but I don't mind because I love to hear the "bird track" when I'm working in the garden. I spend a good portion of my time with a hula hoe, although when the ground is wet the weeds just seem to reseat themselves after being dislodged from their original position. I refuse to spray herbicides, no matter how bad the weeds get.

Spring's on the Way
I am not going to plant tomatoes in the vegetable garden this coming spring. They haven't done well the past few years and I think the soil is tired, which is why I'm trying to grow peas there. Pea plants are nitrogen fixers, holding nitrogen in nodules on their roots, and will rejuvenate soil that has been over worked. I'll plant the tomatoes in the upper cutting bed when the soil has warmed sufficiently. Right now, I have onions planted in the tomato bed and before too long I will plant delphinium, dahlias and other colorful cutting flowers among them. The nursery beckons! I can't wait to fill my shopping cart with nemesia, stock, calendula, johnny-jump-ups and pansies of all colors. If the weather holds I will start planting this week.

Slug Control
The bulbs are coming up and I need to spread snail bait before those demons start dining in earnest. We use Slugg-o to control snails and slugs. It is an organic product and will not harm the dog if he decides to eat it. It's expensive, but worth the cost because it works so well.

Not As Young As I Once Was!
I've discovered when spreading the redwood chips that I am not nearly as strong as I was in my forties. I carry a few big scoops up the hill, then take a break to hoe some weeds. Once I have recovered sufficiently, I carry and place a few more scoops of chips. It's taken me a few weeks to get all of the garden beds tucked in and tidy. Nobody said that growing old was a picnic, but who knew it would slow down my gardening! I've got work to do, spring is coming!

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