March to-do list for gardeners

By Rebecca Jepsen
For the Mercury News
March 5, 2010

Seeds: Starting your own seeds gives you the flexibility to choose the varieties of vegetable and herbs you would like to grow, as opposed to just what's available at your local nursery. You can directly sow peas, corn, beans and squash into the garden. It is best to start tomatoes, eggplants and peppers indoors and then transplant seedlings when they are developed and sturdy.

Weeds: Control weeds now while they are small and before they have gone to seed. It's also easier to remove the entire root by hoeing or hand-pulling while the soil is moist.

Trees: Apply dormant spray to deciduous trees and shrubs to control aphids, scale and whiteflies. Apply fixed copper spray to apples, pears and loquats if fire blight has been a problem in the past. And if your peach trees have been affected by peach leaf curl, apply tribasic copper sulfate or lime sulfur.

Aphids: Control aphids by removing them from infected trees and shrubs with a strong water blast from the hose. Ladybugs do an excellent job of controlling aphid populations. Plant white alyssum to invite ladybugs into your garden.

Slugs and snails: Control the slug and snail population by removing their hiding places (damp leaf piles, under boards, dense plants that touch the ground). Then handpick them early in the day or late in the evening. You can squish them in place or drop them in soapy water. You can provide them a "one way" watering hole by filling small containers with beer (the slugs and snails will drown in the beer), or apply an iron phosphate product. Baits that contain metaldehyde are unsafe for children and pets.

Rebecca Jepsen is a Master Gardener. Call the Master Gardener hot line, 408-282-3105, 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Mondays- Fridays.

WHAT TO PLANT NOW

Bare root: asparagus; roses; berries; artichokes; onions; fruit trees such as apple, apricot, cherry, fig, nectarine and pear.

Transplants: arugula, beets, broccoli, cauliflower, chard, mustard greens, Asian greens, lettuce, peas, and spinach.

Seeds
: beets, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, chard, corn, fava beans, garlic, mustard greens, Asian greens, lettuce, peas, radishes, spinach, squash and tomatoes.