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A common trait of the Antelope Valley is all the false springs we have, one day it is cold, then it is hot, then it is rainy, and the plants are confused, and we get confused on what to do in your landscape and vegetable garden.This pattern will continue through March. That makes February and March late winter. The target date for spring in the Antelope Valley is April 17, which is considered the first frost-free day of the year. On April 1, there is still a 50-50 chance of plant-killing temperatures. This means that for the rest of February and all of March, all we can do is wait and hope.To help keep your plants dormant, you do not want to fertilize your fruit trees, roses or landscape plants. Even though you are tempted to fertilize your fruit trees, roses and other shrubs, you need to wait. Fertilizing now will force them to grow, instead of staying semi-dormant. The more new growth the plant produces, the more damage will occur if we have a good frost.
I know it is tough that my rose plants have been trying to grow for the last few weeks, starting to bud out then stopping and starting to grow again. You want to help them by fertilizing, but it is best to wait at least a month.It is also best not to overwater your roses and fruit trees. You do not want the plants to dry out, however you are still trying to prevent them from growing. If the buds are starting to swell on your fruit trees, you can cut off small limbs, then place in warm water in the house and they will flower in the house.Holding back the fertilizer and water to most of your landscape plants will help them stay dormant longer, but some of your plants are ready to start growing. It is time to fertilize your cool season lawns, junipers, cypress and pine trees. Your bluegrass, fescue or ryegrass lawns should be starting to turn green and growing again. When the weeds start growing in the desert, it is time to fertilize your lawn.During this time of year be sure to use a fertilizer that contains nitrogen derived from a nitrate source, not an ammonium source. Look at the fertilizer bag and it will list the type of nitrogen. If it has nitrate listed as an ingredient, then it will work now.You may also want to find a fertilizer that has a weed preventer mixed with the fertilizer. This can help prevent crabgrass from germinating later this spring. Just like your lawn, pine trees and other cone bearing plants start growing at a lower temperature and it is time to fertilize these plants.
It is still winter, so avoid tomatoes, peppers, marigolds and many of the flowering plants that are now showing up in garden centers. It is still too cold. True spring does not come until April.I find it hard not to prune my perennial flowers and ornamental grass now. This includes daylilies, agapanthus, penstemon and mums. It is still best to wait to see good growth coming out of frost-damaged plants before pruning off the dead parts. Removing dead leaves and branches just exposes the new tender growth to cold weather.If you have not pruned your roses or fruit trees, this is probably the last weekend that you can safety prune your plants. Waiting any longer can also cause the plants to start growing too early, only to have the new growth freeze off.You can start your summer vegetable garden seeds indoors. If you have not already done so, start your summer vegetables from seeds indoors. Tomatoes and peppers can now be started indoors and allowed to grow for a couple months before planting outside. I find it best to start tomatoes and peppers in late March for typical transplants, but for large plants ready to produce the seeds can be started now.You may want to start to prepare your summer garden by rototilling in a couple inches of organic matter into your garden and adding a couple pounds of a 16-16-16 fertilizer to start to improve the soil.You can now plant radishes, beets, carrots and other vegetables that you eat the roots, directly in the garden. Cabbage, lettuce and other leafy vegetables can still be planted. During the summer these plants may become bitter tasting because of the hot temperatures.It is probably too late for broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. These vegetables are best planted in November.
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