• April is Busy Time for Southern California Gardeners - Friday, March 29, 2013 at

  • Spring planting is in full swing in Southern California. Prepare and plant properly now and reap the rewards in summer, say experts at Agromin, an Oxnard-based manufacturer of earth-friendly compost products made from organic material collected from more than 50 California cities.

    Rejuvenate Tired Soil: Professional growers know that soil is key to a crop's success. Before adding a single vegetable or flower plant to a garden, make sure the soil is healthy. Add an organic soil blend into the garden soil to infuse needed nutrients that may have been lost because of winter rains and runoff.

    Save Water, Use Mulch: Water bills can be sky high in spring and summer as gardens and lawns require extra watering to combat warmer weather. To help keep soil and roots cool and moist and to extend times between waterings, add a three-inch layer of organic mulch around plants, shrubs and trees. As an added benefit, mulch also keeps weeds down.

    Grow Herbs and Vegetables in Containers: Herbs, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, lettuce and eggplant can all be grown in containers. By growing plants in containers, gardeners can easily keep plants pruned for maximum production. Place self-draining vegetable containers in an area with plenty of sunshine. Because containers can warm up quickly, plant your vegetables in the biggest container possible (avoid dark-colored pots) so the plants don't overheat. Keep the soil moist by watering regularly or using self-watering containers. Use a potting mix that holds in moisture (usually containing minerals such as vermiculite or perlite).

    Plant Citrus Trees: April, May and June are the best months to plant citrus trees. Milder weather warms up the soil, which is an immediate boost for tree growth. For smaller backyards, consider dwarf or semi-dwarf trees (which can reach to heights of up to 12 feet if not pruned). When selecting a citrus tree at a nursery, look for one with shiny green leaves. Once home, find a sunny location for the tree. Dig a hole twice as wide as the root system and deep enough to contain the root ball. Keep the tree thoroughly watered at first and lightly fertilized. Once roots grow, they will forage on their own and require less water and fertilizer.

    Bulbs: Bulbs planted last fall will begin growing in spring. To make blooms last throughout spring and early summer and to encourage new growth, immediately remove dead flowers and brown foliage.

    Attend To Your Lawn: If there are bare patches in your lawn, mow the lawn and then apply grass seed to the bare spots and cover with a thin layer of lawn topper mix. Water twice a day for two weeks. New growth will begin in about three weeks. When you mow during the spring and summer, consider leaving grass blades on the grass for a natural mulch. Mow regularly to keep grass thick and to control weeds.

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

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  • Prepare and Plant Your Garden in March - Friday, March 1, 2013 at

  • Oxnard, Calif.--March 20 is officially the first day of spring, but southern California gardeners don't have to wait until then to start their spring planting, say experts at Agromin, an Oxnard-based manufacturer of earth-friendly soil products made from organic material collected from more than 50 California cities.

    Prepare Garden Soil: Cultivate the soil down one foot. Mix in appropriate organic soil amendments before planting. If the soil is mostly clay (sticky and clumpy), use an amendment that will loosen the soil allowing roots to grow and water to penetrate. If the soil is sandy, add organic humus to build up the soil.

    Plant Warm Season Vegetables: Cold weather vegetables yields have just about run their course in March. It's time to trim the hardy plants for possible regrowth or remove them and plant summer vegetables as long as the danger of frost has past and the soil is warm. Soil should be consistently about 60 degrees. It's early enough in the season to plant vegetables from seed. These include tomatoes, peppers, green beans, cucumbers, squash, eggplant, onion, potatoes, spinach, turnips and corn. You can still plant cool-season vegetables including broccoli, lettuce, cabbage and kale.

    Keep Weeds Under Control: If you have been adding mulch to your garden over that past several years, weeds should be relatively few. Besides suppressing weed growth, mulch adds to the nutrients in the ground as it slowly decomposes and it keeps moisture in the soil as the weather warms. Add at least two to three inches around trees, shrubs, flowers and plants. Be careful to keep the mulch from touching tree bark or plant stems. 

    Fertilize Citrus and Avocado Trees: Spring and fall are the best time to give your trees nutrients. Feed avocado, citrus trees, fruit trees and roses with a well-balanced fertilizer containing nitrogen. Fertilize prior to new signs of new growth.

    Prepare Lawns for Spring Growth: Depending on the type of grass, lawn growth may have come to a standstill during winter. To encourage growth, rake the lawn lightly and aerate to loosen compacted soil (aerators can be rented at local nurseries).

    Divide Perennials: Over the winter, perennials such agapanthus, asters, bellflowers, callas, cymbidiums, daylilies, rudbeckia, Shasta daisies, penstemon and yarrow, can become crowded. Divide them by digging up each clump so that the rootball comes up intact. Wash or gently shake off excess soil, then cut into divisions with a sharp knife. Each division should have plenty of roots and a few leaves. Replant immediately, leaving several inches between each plant.

    Plant Blooming Flowers for Full Garden: If you can't wait for summer flowers to come in season, there is a variety of blooming flowers available at nurseries this month. Purchasing plants in bloom provides instant color to gardens. Favorites include azaleas, camellias and Indian Hawthorne.

    Natural Protection From Snails: Snails can decimate fruits and vegetables. Here are natural ways to keep them away from your garden. Place a small copper wire around your garden bed. Snails will receive a small shock when they come in contact. Place crushed eggshells around plants. Snails have a soft underbelly and will not try to pass over the sharp shells.

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

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