• Spring Planting Season Has Arrived in Southern California
    Wednesday, February 24, 2010 at
  • Signs of spring are beginning to show. Nowhere is this more evident than on the trees and bushes in Southern California yards as they bloom and sprout new growth. March is the time to prepare gardens for a successful growing season.

    Determine Your Garden's Soil: The dirt in your backyard is primarily two types--sandy or clay. Sandy soil contains large particles and will not hold together easily even when wet. While it quickly drains, its porous nature does hold water or nutrients necessary for plants. Clay soil is dense and sticky when wet. Although it drains poorly, it holds in nutrients and water. Adding compost to either type of soil solves problems associated with each. The decaying materials found in compost allow air and water to traverse through the soil to reach plant roots. Microorganisms and earthworms in the compost naturally reinvigorate and enrich the soil.

    Prepare Your Planting Beds and Garden Area: Add compost throughout the planting area--before planting begins and when replanting existing gardening beds or lawns, dividing perennials or repotting container plants. Use a rototiller if possible and till in compost about two to three inches into the soil.

    Fertilize Trees Including Citrus and Avocado trees: Now is the time to give your garden a shot in the arm with nitrogen fertilizer. Plants usually need to be fertilized only once in March, at the beginning of the spring growing period, and again in September. For fruit trees and roses, wait until the first sign of new leaves before fertilizing.

    Plant Vegetables and Herbs From Seed: after the last chance for frost (around mid-month) and the soil warms, plant warm-season vegetable seeds including tomatoes, peppers, green beans, cucumbers, squash, eggplant, onion, potatoes, spinach, turnips and corn. It's also the time to plant herbs from seed such as basil, mint, oregano, parsley and rosemary. You can still plant cool-season vegetables including broccoli, lettuce, cabbage and kale. Good crops that can be planted year round are carrots, beets and radishes.

    Plant Summer Flowers: Garden centers offer a variety of flower seed packs--a much better variety of flowers to choose from than with already-blooming flowers. Plant marigolds, petunias, alyssum, lobelia, dianthus, flox, verbenia and impatiens from seed in March.

    Mow Lawn to the Right Height: cool season grass (bluegrass, ryegrasses, fescues) should be kept about two inches high. Mow regularly to keep weeds at bay and to promote thicker lawns. When the weather warms considerably in the summer, increase grass blade height to three inches. 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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