GARDEN CALENDAR FOR FEBRUARY 2009
TO PLANT: This may be your year to start a fruit orchard in your own back yard. Bare root trees are available at most nurseries but time is running out as to the season to plant. If you have limited space, you may well wish to investigate availability of several different fruits grafted on one root stock. Apples, pears, cherries, and pluots are among the winters in this category. One point I make is to tag each and every graft with a permanent marker so that when pruning time comes in following years you always know which limb is different from the next. If you have one graft that is growing faster than the others, make sure to keep that pruned more vigorously. If you would rather not take a chance on these types of trees, Dave Wilson Nursery suggests that you can plant more than one tree in the same hole. Semi-dwarf fruits are the best bet to plant. Spring planting of summer flowers is just around the corner. Take heed of all that is available for summer time bulbs. As you check things out in I nurseries look for plants that were not damaged from frost this last winter.
TO DO; If you haven’t cleaned up your lawn mower and had it sharpened, get with it. Make sure that the old gasoline is removed. You can start turning your cover crop over in the vegetable garden. By the time it is time to plant, the crop will have composted. If you are using horse manure in your garden, you might consider covering it for a couple of weeks in order to kill the weed seeds. If you have an automatic sprinkler system or a drip irrigation system, this is the time to check it out in order to make sure it is irrigating properly. Clean out all drip emitters. You may have to replace some of them. If you haven’t done so, it is a good time to check out all of the seed catalogs or look at the seed racks in your local plant shop. You can prune fruit trees until they start to bloom and camellias are best pruned while they are blooming. Azaleas can be sheared right after they finish blooming. If you haven’t pruned your roses do so now, even though they don’t look dormant. Make sure to spray with lime-sulfur after pruning. Also take all existing foliage off.
GARDEN CALENDAR FOR MARCH 2009
TO PLANT: As the weather charges into Spring don’t be fooled into planting summer vegetables such as tomatoes. This is a good time to select winter blooming plants such as camellias, rhododendrons, and azaleas. There are some wonderful plants available at this time of year and don’t overlook the deciduous azaleas. Even though they go dormant in the winter, they have the brightest of colors in the spring. If you intend to start your tomato plants from seed, do so at the beginning of this month. They will be just right by the time it is ready to plant them in the garden. When planting from seed, make sure you purchase a planting mix that is specifically for starting seed. The mix should contain peat moss in that it will go a long way in preventing “damping off”. If you didn’t plant daffodils or jonquils last fall, put it on your calendar for next fall. They will give you wonderful color and the deer and rabbits don’t like them. I still have some copies of my field guide on “Deer Resistant Planting.” Go to my web site www.bobtanem.com to order. Some local nurseries carry them, so check there first.
TO DO: It is a little late to do any fruit pruning or spraying. If you are getting peach or nectarine curly leaf and the trees are in bloom don’t spray because it will prevent the honey bees from successfully pollinating the blooms. The best procedure is to wait until the weather warms up and fertilize the tree to force new growth. The new foliage will be clean of the curl. Next fall spray with lime-sulfur and next winter spray with liquid copper. If you haven’t fed your lawn, now is an opportune time to do so. Choose an organic all purpose or specific organic lawn food for best and long lasting results. This is a good time to reseed the bare spots in the lawn and dig out some of the broad leafed varieties before they go to seed. Check out www.montereylawngarden.com for weed killers that might help make your lawn better looking. GreenAll or Dr. Earth produce one of the best organic lawn fertilizers. If your fruit trees, especially apples, are showing multiple fruits per spur, you should thin them out so as to leave only two or three fruits. This process will insure that you will harvest good sized fruit later. There are a couple of products on the market that will eliminate unwanted fruit on such trees as olives and liquidamber. Check out the above web site. If you are looking for some new ideas on landscaping your yard, I’m available for consultations call 954 8611  and leave your phone number.
GARDEN CALENDAR FOR APRIL 2009
TO PLANT: If you have done your job properly you are ready to plant your vegetable garden. If the weeds are now three feet tall, you need to start somewhere. Rototilling the weeds under won’t work because the weeds will just get tangled into the tines. Your best bet in this case is to cut the weeds down and toss into the compost heap. You can leave the roots in place and rototill them into the ground. They will add nutrients into the soil. If you have a cover crop it is best to cut these plants down and then chop them up into the soil. Winter flowers need to be replaced. If the bulbs are spent and the stems are dry you can either dig them up or leave them in by tying a knot into the dry leaves. Pretty much everything can be planted. I usually don’t plant my tomato plants until after Easter. Don’t panic if you aren’t ready, you have until June to plant any vegetables in the garden. This is the best month to transplant or plant citrus from containers. Most nurseries have a great selection. If you have held off planting citrus because of the cold weather it should be accomplished now. Zinnia are deer resistant and do well from seed.
TO DO: If you have a bird feeder make sure to clean up underneath and cover the ground with a mulch. When you replace seed in the container, it is a good idea to sterilize the seed by putting it into the oven at 250 degrees for 10 minutes. This will prevent any sprouting. Most flowers and vegetables can be planted at this time You may prune citrus at this time of year. I usually try to keep my citrus in a round ball. The foliage is needed to protect the fruit. If you are planting corn, it is best to start from seed rather than from plants. For some reason the plants from seeds will produce better. Soak the seed overnight and put some sort of temporary cover over them to protect from birds. If you want to participate in one of those pumpkin contests add lots of compost to the area and keep moist. You will need special seeds to grow giant pumpkins. Be aware that the vines take up an enormous amount of space. Make sure you pollinate the blooms of all of your zucchini and other squash to prevent rotting ends. You need to take the place of the bees.