Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

May, 2004
Regional Report

Cultivate Soil

Cultivate the soil around vegetables and bedding plants so that water and fertilizer can easily reach the roots. Compacted soil inhibits plant growth. By cultivating, you will also allow oxygen to reach the root zone and dislodge weed seedlings before they can become established.

Watch for Spittlebugs

Spittlebugs do very little damage, but they are unsightly. If you find clusters of bubbles between the leaves and along the stems of mint, simply wash them off with a strong jet of water.

Caring for Indoor Plants

It's time to wake up those indoor plants. Take them outdoors and give them a shower. Don't leave them in direct sunlight or they will burn. Mix a liquid fertilizer one-half strength to fertilize indoor plants monthly while they are actively growing. Blooming plants, such as African violets, require bimonthly applications of liquid fertilizer as well as a continuous source of slow-release fertilizer.

Groom Rhododendrons

As the flowers fade on rhododendrons and azaleas, pinch off the spent blooms near the base to encourage bushy new growth. These plants are not self shedding and will hold onto the faded flowers. If you look closely, you will see a bit of tan-colored wood just below the flower. There are darker-colored stripes in that tan wood that say, "Cut Here!" This is a sticky job so wear gloves.

Patrol for Weeds

Weeds steal precious water and nutrients from garden plants. Pull them before they go to seed. Weeds pull best from damp soil. After watering, put on your gloves and take a walk around your garden. Grasp weeds near the base, just at soil level. Twist and pull at the same time, and the weed should slip out, roots and all! This is a very rewarding task, although not for the weed.


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