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GARDENING TIPS FOR SONOMA COUNTY


March 2019 Gardening Tips

www.thegardeningtutor.net - Clematis 'Multi-Blue'
Bees on Iceland Poppy

MARCH 2019

BEES AND YELLOW JACKETS

    Let’s talk about bees and yellow jackets before their active season really gets going.

    Have you ever pet a bee? I like to quietly sneak up behind them and pet their little bee backs! I love bees! That said, I understand that not everyone shares my enjoyment of bees. Respecting bees and their importance in our world is a different story.

    We all need to respect bees and other pollinators in order for them to thrive and pollinate all those flowers so we can eat! Both bees and yellow jackets can be helpful friends of the garden. Paper Wasp yellow jackets eat insects and other garden pests. In the demo garden, I watch the Blue jays hover under the roofline and pluck the yellow jackets from their nests (the circle of life).

    Understanding the difference between bees and yellow jackets will help you decide how to manage any possible problems. Sometimes there is no need to do anything but other times you may need to set traps or call for help. It’s about balance. Know what you are dealing with before automatically spraying poisons.

    Beginning around the first week in March and ending around June is typically swarm season for honeybees (they are looking for a new home). If you have a swarm of bees that chose an inappropriate area of your property to set up shop please go to www.sonomabees.org and accept the help of the volunteers who can come collect the swarm (depending on your situation you may be charged a fee). When you call please be ready to answer questions such as ‘how long has the swarm been there’, ‘in relation to the size of a sports ball how big is the swarm’, ‘in relation to your roofline how high up is the swarm’, etc.

    If you plan to entertain outside, this is the time to set out yellow jacket traps. Placed early in the season (about one trap per acre) you have a good chance of catching the queen and therefore decreasing the amount of yellow- jackets near your picnic areas. There is only a small window of time that the queen is flying about so do not put off placing your traps until summer.

    When you are outside and you feel something that feels like a bb pellet hit you, be aware that this ‘hit’ may be a warning sentry yellow jacket or other bee telling you to stay away. Get out of the area quickly and assess the situation from afar!

    For more information check out “Yellow Jackets and Other Social Wasps” at http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7450.html

    March 2019
    Gardening Checklist*
    What to SHOP for . . .
    Checkbox Trees - Cornus (Dogwood), Fruit trees, Chionanthus retusus (Chinese Fringe tree).
    Checkbox Shrubs - Camellia, Kerria japonica, Rhododendron, Buxus (Boxwood), Choisya ternata.
    Checkbox Annuals - Calendula, Schizanthus pinnatus, Bellis perennis.
    Checkbox Bulbs - Summer flowering bulbs such as Dahlia, Gladiolus and Liatris
    Checkbox Bulbs bought as Plants - Anemone, Ranunculus, and Freesia.
    Checkbox Veggies - Beets, Carrots, Fava beans, Leeks, Lettuce, Peas, Radish, Potato tubers, Artichoke (roots).
     

     

    Tasks to do . . .
    Checkbox Pruning - Shear some plants for best performance. Watch The Gardening Tutor video: Shearing to Encourage Flowering and Foliage The early blooming clematis are pruned after they bloom but the spring and summer blooming clematis can be pruned now. If you feel confused by how to prune clematis or what your other plants need, schedule your appointment with The Gardening Tutor now. Continue to deadhead pansies, Iceland poppies and Calendula to encourage more flowering.
    Checkbox Design - Are you planning on planting a vine to cover an outdoor eating area? When deciding which vine to plant consider when it blooms. If you plan on eating under that vine, do you want to share that space with bees and wasps working those flowers in the summer or would you like the vine to bloom in winter or early spring when you can enjoy the flowers from inside your warm house. Also, when choosing any vine consider how quickly it grows and how heavy the mature vine will become. Here are a few vines to consider:
    • Clematis montana - Early spring Blooming/fast growing/ deciduous
    • Clematis armandii - early to mid spring/fragrant white flowers/evergreen/slow to start growing but after established spreads 15 to 20 feet, heavy.
    • Clytostoma callistegioides - late spring/violet trumpet flowers/slow to moderate grower easy to direct.
    Checkbox Irrigation - Plan on checking your drip irrigation system in the next month or so. Flush the lines (open the end and turn system on to run water through for a few seconds), check for leaks, check that all emitters are working properly.
    Checkbox Fertilizing - Fertilize roses starting around the middle of this month. Mary has had wonderful results with EB Stone Rose and Flower food but there are several organic fertilizers from which to choose. Later in the season use Maxsea liquid fertilizers (either all purpose or bloom). Clematis can be fertilized now.
    Checkbox Mulching - It's time to apply a layer of mulch to the garden. For more information about mulching: Watch Mulch vs. Compost.
    Checkbox Shopping Extra - If you are looking for the unusual and cannot find it at your local nursery visit Annie’s Annuals. Annie has lots of interesting plants and her mail order service is outstanding! The plants arrive in excellent condition ready to plant right away! Pruners, treat yourself to a new pair of quality by-pass pruners, such as Felcos. Keep them clean and sharp and they will last for years!
       
    Free printable . . .
      Looking for a way to stay organized in your garden?
    Download this Free Printable Gardening Checklist* and you’ll be amazed how inspired you’ll feel!
    Let us know how you’re doing. You can do it!
    Remember, this printable was created as a short list of tasks with minimal information. If you would like more in-depth information,
    you can always refer back to the checklist above each month for more details.
     

    The Gardening Tutor January 2019 Printable

    *Colors may vary depending upon your computer screen and printer.


*For More Detailed Gardening Tips
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in Sonoma County
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Hands-On Individualized Gardening Instruction and Consulting in Sonoma County