What to plant and prune in the garden this week – Orange County Register

1. Plant sorrel. In neglected dwelling courtyards and barren open spaces, particularly on hillsides, you may have noticed a mass of yellow blooms covering foliage that, upon closer inspection, reminds you of shamrocks. However, while shamrocks are classically associated with clover, a ground cover that produces its own nitrogen through the presence of symbiotic bacteria in its roots, this creeping plant is Oxalis pes-caprae, a perennial that most consider a weed, but others do welcome buttery blooms in late winter or early spring. Oxalis is popularly known as sorrel, a word derived from “sour,” and refers to the oxalic acid that gives the leaves a tart, lemony flavor that makes them a substitute for salad dressing. However, the same compound that gives oxalis its distinctive flavor can be harmful when consumed in large amounts, as the calcium it contains can form harmful crystals or even kidney stones. Keep in mind that many vegetables contain potentially toxic levels of oxalic acid when eaten in large amounts, including spinach, kale, chard, sweet potatoes, beets, and potato peels.

Certain Oxalis species are among the most durable flower garden choices for part sun to shaded exposures. The most common is the pink wood-sorrel (Oxalis crassipes), a South African species that seems to appear out of nowhere after vanishing in the summer heat and winter chill, but survives from one year to the next thanks to its rhizomes. Purple shamrock (Oxalis triangularis), with its distinctive deep purple, triangular leaflets, is as long-lived a shady garden or houseplant as you will ever find. I’ve never seen a purple shamrock die; the worst that happens is a short dormancy every now and then, but the endurance of this bulb-growing plant is legendary. Another sorrel that can last for years is Oxalis versicolor var. zinfandel, with its yellow flowers and wine-colored foliage. Incidentally, French sorrel (Rumex spp.) is an unrelated species, although it also contains oxalic acid and therefore its leaves add a flavor similar to oxalis when tossed in a salad.

2. You can now start planting seeds for your vegetable garden. It’s preferable to do this indoors so your seedlings can grow big and hardy enough to withstand capricious weather changes once planted outdoors. Type “Seed Starter Kit” into your internet search engine to find products that make seed germination easier. A YOUNGEL kit contains 80 cells for germinating seeds (or rooting cuttings). A pan catches water draining through the cells, and a plastic dome overhead retains moisture and increases humidity, which can be adjusted by opening or closing eight vents in the dome. Embedded in the dome are LED lights whose brightness can be adjusted with an included controller, the total cost of which is $26.99. When lifting seedlings, never hold the stem. Hold the seedling by its root, which you will extract from each cell. To protect against cutworms (larvae of certain moths) after planting, encircle each seedling with a four-inch strip of aluminum foil or cardboard pressed into the soil. Cultivation before planting and sprinkling of diatomaceous earth on the soil surface are also recommended as alternative measures to protect against caterpillars. Finally, there is some evidence that an oak leaf mulch works as a cutworm deterrent. Seedlings that are particularly susceptible to cutworm predation include lettuce, beans, corn, asparagus, carrots, cabbage, celery, peas, peppers, potatoes, and tomatoes.

3. When it comes to pruning your fruit trees, the growth habits and sensitivities of each one must be considered before picking up pruners and pruners. The easiest trees to prune, as they do not require pruning per se, are tropical evergreen trees such as avocado and any type of citrus. These trees are pruned primarily to keep them at a manageable height for harvesting or to remove dead shoots and branches. You can keep your avocado tree at 8 or 12 feet tall by pruning it once a year between February and April. This time frame is also suitable for citrus pruning. With citrus, you should be careful not to open the tree as this can result in burning the inner branches. If you have ever seen a citrus orchard being pruned, you will find that it is done with a large mechanized hedge trimmer. This lowers the tree height for easier harvesting while leaving the inside of the tree intact and leafy to protect the branches from sun scalding. With deciduous fruit trees, it is also advisable to prune them to keep them at a reasonable height, about six to ten feet tall in the case of peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots, and apples. It’s best to prune deciduous fruit trees before they bloom and sprout, so it might be a little late to prune some of them. Note that peaches and nectarines fruit on annual stalks—older stalks must be removed—while plums and apricots fruit on short one- to three-year-old stalks. A spur grows laterally from a scion and can elongate as little as an inch per year. Depending on the variety, apples can grow exclusively on spurs, on shoot terminals, or both.

4. On the ground around your fruit trees, keep an inch-thick mulch made from the wood shavings from a pruning shears and shredded leaves, never needing to apply fertilizer to produce a large crop of fruit. Speaking of vegetables, if you sow a cover crop like clover every year and incorporate it into the soil just before flowering, ideally a month before planting the vegetables, you won’t need to fertilize your vegetables either. Or, if you have a compost pile, taking out finished compost and digging it in your plot before growing vegetables can also eliminate the need for packaged fertilizers. Ruth Stout, the legendary Connecticut vegetable gardener, never fertilized her plots, instead keeping them filled with rotting hay that provides both mulch and a constant supply of fertilizer. Do you grow edibles without traditional fertilizers, neither synthetic nor organic? If yes, please provide details of your cultivation practices.

https://www.ocregister.com/2023/03/03/what-to-plant-and-prune-in-the-garden-this-week/ What to plant and prune in the garden this week – Orange County Register

Adam Bradshaw

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