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.
Labels: fertilize in spring, March planting tips, soil for raised garden planters, Southern California, spring vegetables