Garden Tips Newsletter – March 2012


Learn about local resources and opportunities for gardening.

Long-time Master Gardener Romola Georgia offers up timely tips to keep your garden in top condition.

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Archived newsletter from March 2012. Click here to return to the Archive list.

Transition Palo Alto Garden Notes for March


I’m so grateful for the bit of rain we’ve had, aren’t you?  I used to race to get my tomatoes and other warm-weather crops into the ground, hoping to get a “head start.”  But after many disappointments, I’ve learned that those heat-lovers should not be planted until the soil temperature is consistently warm.  And with our recent cold-night temperatures, that may not be until May!


1. Cool season annuals can withstand light frosts:  carrots, beets, radishes, chard and other greens, and nasturtiums can be directly seeded now.

2. Warm season vegetables have no frost tolerance: beans, cucumbers, eggplants, melons, peppers, squash and tomatoes. You can start seeds inside, or purchase at Master Gardeners Spring Garden Market, March 31 or at a nursery.

Starting Seeds at Home – some tips

  1. Use wide flat containers to avoid overcrowding. You can use recycled containers like yogurt tubs with holes poked in the bottom for drainage. You can sanitize containers by soaking in a 10% bleach solution for 15 minutes and air drying.
  2. Fill containers with fresh potting soil, making the surface smooth and level.
  3. Place seeds on the soil, sprinkle gently with soil or a soil-less seed starting mix evenly over the top. The seed must be in firm contact with the moist soil to begin germination. Use a pestle or the bottom of a glass to gently tamp down the surface.
  4. Provide air flow and drainage to prevent disease. If you cover the trays with plastic wrap to keep the moisture level constant, you should still check them daily. As soon as the seeds germinate, remove the plastic.
  5. Keep the seeds warm to encourage germination and turn daily to keep stems strong.
  6. When plants emerge, thin to no more than 2 plants per cell if using 6-packs.
  7. Before seedlings can be planted outdoors, they must be hardened off. You can do this over a three-day period by placing them in direct sunlight the morning of the first day, then increasing the time outside by a few hours each day until they are vigorous enough to be transplanted.

Citrus leaves yellow this time of year
If your citrus leaves are yellowing, you might be convinced something terrible is happening to your prized Navel orange or Meyer lemon. Don’t panic–yet. Citrus trees put much of their energy and resources into fruit production this time of year and yellowing of the leaves is common.

  • ·Fertilizing citrus. A nitrogen fertilizer (which will help green up the leaves) can be applied prior to bloom and again in May or June.
  • ·Pests and disorders of Citrus. Consult this UC Davis website if something is obviously wrong with your tree.
  • ·Frost protection (PDF). Make sure the soil is well-watered and protect your citrus from frost.
  • ·General fruit tree advice. Consult the UC Backyard Orchard references pages for advice and care of all backyard fruit trees.


Two useful classes

Saturday March 242012     3-4:30 pm

Planting Your Summer Vegetables

Master Gardener Laura Monczynski will teach you how to choose the vegetables and herbs that will give you the most pleasure in your summer garden. You will also learn how to prepare and care for your garden plot or containers and enjoy healthy food right out of your own yard all summer long and well into the fall. Don’t miss this excellent opportunity to learn how to save money, eat well, and get a little fresh air and exercise.

Location: Mountain View Library, 585 Franklin Street, Mountain View Directions to Mountain View Library

Tuesday March 272012     7:30-8:30 pm

Tomatoes, Peppers, Eggplant, Beans, Squash, Herbs and Flowers – Summer Gardening!

We’ll talk about some favorite summer vegetables – tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, beans, squash … and also herbs like basil, dill, lemon verbena, marjoram … and you don’t want to forget flowers to attract pollinators and beneficial insects. Zinnias, sunflowers, cosmos, amaranth, rudbeckia …

Tonight’s talk will cover soil preparation with compost and fertilizers, direct seeding and transplanting, which varieties do well in our area and some of our favorites. Learn to extend the season by succession planting beans and other vegetables.

We’ll leave time at the end so everyone can join in and tell us about their favorite vegetables and varieties and any tidbit of experience they’d like to share!

Location: Los Altos Library, 13 S. San Antonio Road, Los Altos Directions to Los Altos Library

The purpose of this group is to share information, resources, questions, and events about vegetable gardening. Our wonderful Mediterranean climate permits us to grow and eat from our own gardens in every month of the year.


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