• March is Busy Time for Southern California Gardeners
    Wednesday, February 25, 2009 at
  • Warm weather is within sight for gardeners, meaning plenty of planting opportunities in March, says Agromin, a Camarillo-based manufacturer of premium soil products and one of the state's largest green materials recycling companies.

    Planting From Seed: Nothing can be more gratifying for a gardener than to watch vegetables and flowers grow from seed. Many plants grow healthier and stronger from seed by avoiding the trauma of transplanting. Local nurseries carry an assortment of seed packs. Follow the directions carefully for the best results.

    Warm Season Flowers And Vegetables: Cool season gardens should have grown beautifully this year because of our mild winter. March signals a changeover from cool season to warm season flowers and vegetables. Plant spring flowers such as marigolds, petunias, freesias, gladiolus, daffodils and grape hyacinths. March is the perfect time to plant beans, summer and winter squash, corn, eggplant, onion, peppers, turnips and some spring tomatoes.

    Potato Planting: A fun garden project for kids is to plant potatoes. Start by filling your planting area with about four inches of compost. Water well. Place small whole potatoes or pieces of potato with at least one or two "eyes (the best variety are available at garden centers) six to eight inches deep in rows. Cover with four inches of compost. Water regularly but don't soak. Potatoes grow between the planted pieces and the surface of the soil. As stems grow, continue to add soil half way up the stem. Harvest the potatoes three weeks after the plants have finished flowering.

    Water Management: Water rationing may be a fact of life by July. Start to conserve water now by only watering when your soil is thoroughly dry. Deep water to force roots downward where soil typically is moister. Place several inches of mulch around your plants, shrubs and trees to hold in moisture and lengthen the time between waterings.

    Lawn Maintenance: keep cool season grass (bluegrass, ryegrasses, fescues) blades at about two inches high. Increase to three inches in summer. As the weather warms, mow regularly to keep weeds in check and to promote thicker lawns. Warm season grass (Bermuda, St. Augustine and zoysia) should be cut at a steady two-inch level throughout spring and summer.

    For more gardening tips, go to www.agromin.com.

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  • How to Plant Citrus
    Thursday, February 12, 2009 at

  • 1) Selecting

    Research the citrus varieties that would grow best in your area. Stop by local nurseries, especially those that grow their own trees, to see the types of citrus they offer. Most often, nurseries only carry trees that will thrive in their area.

    A healthy tree will have deep green leaves and a straight trunk that's able to support itself. Try to choose a tree with very little, or no, fruit. Don't expect a newly-planted tree to produce a fruit crop right away. It will need to conserve its energy to adapt to the stress of a new environment.

    2) Planting

    The climate in your area dictates the ideal time to plant a young citrus tree. In most areas, fall planting will give the trees enough time to establish themselves before higher summer temperatures put stress on their growth. How deep you plant your tree is important. You don't want plant too low or the trunk will remain wet and can become susceptible to bark diseases. Plant the tree too high and the roots could dry out, keeping moisture from getting to the tree.

    Note: It will take your tree one to two years to fully recover from the transplant. During this time, be sure to closely monitor the feeding and watering schedules.

    3) Water and Fertilizer

    Many factors go into how often to water. These include the drainage, soil composition, time of year and the amount of rainfall. A good guide for summer watering (April through September) is to water every seven to 10 days. During the winter months (November to February), scale back watering to once every three to four weeks. Over watering can be just as damaging as under watering. A tree that lacks moisture will look wilted, but a tree with too much moisture can develop root decay or fungus, and also looking wilted. Don't be afraid to use an ample layer of ES2 or aged landscape wood mulch under the drip line of the tree to retain moisture and save on your watering bill. Be careful and avoid contact between the trunk of the tree and the mulch.

    Fertilizing annually is essential to growing citrus successfully. To get the most benefit out of your fertilizer, make 10 to 12 holes about six inches deep near the tree and put equal amounts of fertilizer into each hole and cover with soil.

    4) Diseases and Insects

    Insects can occasionally scar the surface of fruit. Rarely, however, will these pests cause enough damage to make the fruit inedible. The most serious type of citrus plant disease is phytophthora. Phytophthora affects the root system and the trunk of the tree. It is a fungus that is most active when soil surrounding the tree is not allowed to dry out between waterings.

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