Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

October, 2000
Regional Report

Care for Wild Oaks

If you have old wild oak trees on your property, keep them healthy by not raising or lowering the soil level between the trunk and the drip line. This may disturb the roots and casue the tree to die. Never water within 4 feet of the trunk or allow water to stand under the canopy of leaves. Keep old trees groomed by removing dead limbs and branches. Imitate the natural weather cycle of California by providing irrigation in drought winters and allowing the trees to reach down into the earth to find their own water during the dry summer months.

Fertilize Cymbidium Orchids

Make the fertilizer switch on your cymbidium orchids now. To promote the best bloom, plants need a low-nitrogen fertilizer such as 6-30-30 or 6-25-25 applied at half strength every week from now until the buds set. It's best if the potting bark is damp before you apply fertilizer.

Buy Bulbs

Purchase spring-blooming bulbs now. Select firm bulbs that have no sign of fungus or injury. The papery jackets should be in place, and the bulb should not have sprouted. Remember - large bulbs create large flowers, so buy the biggest bulbs you can afford. Because chilling before planting is beneficial for spring-blooming bulbs in our region, place them in the vegetable crisper of your refrigerator once you get them home. Make sure they are stored in paper, not plastic, bags to prevent rotting. Plant outdoors 4 to 6 weeks after chilling.

Dig Summer Bulbs

Dig and store summer-blooming bulbs and tubers such as tuberous begonia, dahlia, and gladiola after the foliage dies back. Brush off the soil, allow the bulbs to dry for a few days in a shady area, and then store them in a cool, dry area for the winter. Make sure you store your bulbs in a single layer on newspaper or sawdust to prevent rotting, but don\'t let them completely dry out. Mist them if needed.

Snail Patrol

Slugs and snails are a menace now. Here's the list of ways to control them. Keep garden beds clean and raked up to eliminate hiding places, surround new plantings with diatomaceous earth, eggshell, or fireplace ash, and keep it fresh. Slugs and snails don't like to feel a rough texture on their sensitive foot. Surround garden beds with strips of copper foil. Copper reacts with the body juices of slugs and snails, causing an electrical charge that gives these garden pests an unpleasant jolt. Set beer traps near the surface of the soil. Slugs are real boozers and will help themselves to a fatal sip if available. Pay kids a penny each for snails collected from your garden.


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