• March Means Spring Planting Season Begins in Southern California
    Thursday, February 26, 2015 at

  • March 20 is the first day of spring, but southern California gardeners can start planting their spring garden earlier in the month as warmer weather and longer days take hold.

    Prep Soil in Raised Garden Planters: The success of vegetables grown in raised garden planters has much to do with soil than almost anything else. Look for soil blends made specifically for planters, usually a blend of compost and peat moss rich in organic nutrients. Since compaction is always an issue with planters, the soil should be light to allow for easy water drainage. Consider lining the bottom of the planters with landscaping fabric so the plant roots do not reach down into the underlying soil.

    Fertilize Everything: Most plants grow best in spring, so feeding them now will yield long-term results. An all-purpose fertilizer should contain nitrogen to promote healthy leaf growth, phosphorus to develop roots, stems and blossoms and potassium to help plants absorb nutrients. Feed avocado, citrus trees, fruit trees and roses with a well-balanced fertilizer designed specifically for each type of tree. For fruit trees and roses, wait until the first sign of new leaves before fertilizing.

    Maximize Fruit Production: Apple, apricot, peach, and plum trees routinely set more fruit than the trees can ripen. As fruit begins to appear, twist off extra fruit when they reach about marble-size. Leave two of the largest and healthiest young fruits on each 12 inches of stem.

    Plant Shrubs:  For a quick splash of color in shady areas, plant azaleas in bloom, leaving the root ball an inch higher than the ground. Azaleas have long-lasting flowers and do well in shade. Try planting native shrubs including bush marigold, a yellow flowering shrub that blooms in winter and spring and Cleveland sage, which produces silver-green leaves and purple flowers in spring and summer.

    Plant vegetables and herbs from seed: after the last chance for frost (around mid-month) and the soil warms, cultivate your vegetable garden soil down about one foot. Add organic soil planting amendments. 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 now and year round are carrots, beets and radishes.

    Deadhead Spent Flowers: Perennial plants that have been blooming in winter may need to be spruced up. Remove droopy or dried flower heads. If necessary, cut back the stems. This trimming will force the plants to redirect their energy toward new growth for spring.

    Add Mulch: Mulch naturally composts into the soil over time. Add two to three inches of new mulch around the garden. New mulch will continue what mulch does best: hold in moisture, reduce soil erosion and help prevent weed growth.

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

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