March 2008 To Do List

By Rebecca Jepsen
for the Mercury News
03/01/2008

Thanks to our recent heavy rains, the soil is moist. Now is a good time to pull out those weeds. The best way to control weeds in your lawn or garden is to pull them out by hand or with a small trowel. The moist soil will allow the roots to be pulled out much more easily than if you wait until the soil has become dry and compacted.

Control slugs and snails. Remove their hiding places (damp leaf piles, boards, dense plants that touch the ground). Then hand-pick them early in the day or late in the evening. You can squish them in place or drop them into soapy water. You can provide them a ''one way'' watering hole by filling small containers with beer, or control them by applying an iron phosphate product. Baits that contain metaldehyde are unsafe to use around children and pets.

Apply fixed copper spray to apples, pears and loquats if fire blight has been a problem in the past. For the fruit tree and vine care calendar, go to: http://www.mastergardeners.org/pdf/import/recommend/treecalendar.pdf.

Control aphids. Aphids begin to be active in March. Removing aphids from infected trees and shrubs with a strong water blast from the hose can be very effective. Ladybird beetles (ladybugs) do an excellent job of controlling aphid populations. Plant white alyssum to invite ladybugs into your garden.

For our complete list of March gardening tips, go to: www.mastergardeners.org/tips/march.html.

What to plant now

Transplants: mustard, arugula, chard, lettuce, broccoli and cauliflower; many herbs such as thyme, marjoram, parsley, chives and mint. Local nurseries should have a good supply of most of these.

Seeds: Asian greens, fava beans, beets, carrots, radishes, spinach, peas. To find a list of cool season vegetables that do well in Santa Clara County, go to: http://mastergardeners.org/picks/cool.html or call the Master Gardener Hotline weekday mornings at (408) 282-3105 to request a printed copy.

Bulbs: dahlias, cannas, callas, gladiolus. These can be planted in containers or in the ground.

- Rebecca Jepsen, University of California Cooperative Extension Santa Clara County Master Gardener