It is so good to have these rains when we consider California’s recent history! Rain is good! But it can also slow down our services and what things can be done while it is wet out. For instance, dormant oils are a very beneficial treatment that should be done this time of year, BUT we cannot do this treatment in the rain! Overall thought, the rain is good.
There is still pests this time of year! Watch for signs of snail and/or slug damage and treat if needed. They begin to become active at temperatures above forty degrees (40°F). Get your bait or traps ready.
Safety Tip: Do not allow small children or pets see you apply baits as they often want to investigate what you are doing. It is also wise to avoid putting baits in piles. By spreading baits out they tend to be more effective and less attractive to children and pets.
You can still be Planting… Early February is still favorable for most bare root stock however by late month many varieties will begin to push out new growth. This is critical as bare root plants need time to generate new feeder roots before shoot growth begins. Watch out for bare root stock Sold in grocery stores as these plants are often stored indoors. The warm indoor temperatures cause the plants to resume growth early. Do not buy plants that show signs of active bud growth as their survival rate will be low, and if they survive they will be stunted. If you can’t pass up the bargains, then be sure to remove as many buds as possible so the root system has a better chance to catch up and become established. Divide perennials before they resume growth.
Fertilize, Fertilize, Fertilize: Fertilize fall planted annuals with a low nitrogen liquid fertilizer to promote blooming. Liquid fertilizers typically work better than granular in cold soils because they are more easily taken up by the plants. Do not fertilize camellias, azaleas, or rhododendrons until they finish blooming. Apply a high nitrogen fertilizer to dormant fruit trees. Start at 1/2 pound of nitrogen per every inch of trunk diameter at breast height, then use last years growth to rate to determine amounts for each following year.
Keep Pruning! Finish pruning fruit trees and roses. Prune ornamental flowering trees after they bloom. Severe pruning to renovate a hedges should be done this month. Remember, the hedge should be narrower at the top than the bottom to keep the hedge full. Avoid pruning maples and birches at this time as they may bleed. Pick up spent camellia blooms to help prevent blossom blight.
Lovely Lawns! Fertilize cool season lawns now to help them break winter dormancy. Use a quickly available source of nitrogen such as ammonium nitrate, ammonium sulfate or urea to speed up spring recovery. An application of chelated iron will greatly improve your results. Apply a pre-emergent to those lawns with weed problems, to help control Summer annual weeds such as crabgrass, oxalis and spurge. Avoid using lawns when they are frosted or saturated to minimize damage.