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 including those in Santa Barbara County.
» 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 3-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.
— Diane Rumbaugh is a publicist representing Agromin.