UC Master Gardeners

Plenty to do in the yard even if you still have frost

February 27, 2013 

Hard frosts in the North County can still occur until April 5, while on the coast the threat of frost ends around Feb. 15.

UC REGENTS

Q. I live in San Miguel and often get frost in March, what can I do in the garden now? — Denise F.

A.Living on the Central Coast means different microclimates are a mere 30 minutes apart from one another.

A gardener in Los Osos could be enjoying greens and herbs in March, while the North County is not frost free until the first part of April. The average last hard frost date for our regions was Feb. 15 in Pismo Beach and San Luis Obispo, for example, while it’s April 5 in Paso Robles and Santa Maria.

If you want to grow salad greens and herbs, folks living north of the grade have to protect their veggie beds during those frosty nights with a winter row cover. March is not too late to start seeds indoors; many veggies need six weeks before the last frost date in your region before they are strong enough to be planted in your garden.

To keep our fingers in the dirt, one can rely on the weed, defined as “a plant that grows in an undesirable location.” These plants are best dealt with while still small, and hand weeding is economical, a great workout, environmentally correct and gives established plants room to breathe. Many of the weeded areas will benefit from a thick layer of mulch to suppress any further weed growth.

March also gives us an early opportunity to test all of our irrigation stations. Winter might have clogged emitters; rodents can chew through your drip line and popup stations might be faulty. It will feel good knowing once we hit triple digits that all your plants will get the water they need. Watch for newly planted bulbs or larger plants that might need extra emitters.

Don’t be surprised if you notice mounds in your garden or lawn; all creatures are feeling spring arrive. This could mean you need to brush up on your trapping skills. Identifying the type of animal is the first step to success.

Get help from UCCE pest notes at http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu, and get to work. Catching gophers, moles or squirrels before they reproduce makes trapping a snap.

GOT A GARDENING QUESTION?

Contact the University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners: at 781-5939 from 1 to 5 p.m. on Monday and Thursday; at 473-7190 from 10 a.m. to noon on Wednesday in Arroyo Grande; and at 434-4105 from 9 a.m. to noon on Wednesday in Templeton. Visit the UCCE Master Gardeners Web site at http://ucanr.org/sites/mgslo or email mgsanluisobispo@ucdavis.edu  .

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