If there is still a threat of frost in your area it is better to wait a few weeks. Cannas, ginger, ferns and cane begonias are among the tropicals that can look a bit scraggly and in need of refreshing now.
Cut stalks that are have bloomed, are looking leggy or have brown edges all the way to the ground and feed with a balanced fertilizer. Soon new shoots will start and quickly grow in to refresh the plant for a show of new foliage or blooms this spring and summer.
Although a good cutting back this time of year is recommended, progressive pruning throughout the year to remove stems that have bloomed is encouraged to keep the plants tidy and encourage continuing flowers.
Woody tropicals like pyracantha and bougainvillea should be pruned back to last year's wood to encourage summer and fall flowering.
There you will find all kinds of inspirational advice, pictures and videos on gardening basics, edible gardening, outdoor projects, landscaping and design and lots of other fun subjects.
The good news is that most of the articles are specific to our part of the country so there is lots of advice on water-wise gardening and plants that you can find locally.
When you drive around the county and see fields of strawberries it is easy to see that they love our climate. Aside from the weather the three things they need are good drainage, lots of water and six to eight hours of sun a day. You can buy them in bundles of shoots or all sizes of plastic pots at most nurseries now.
Either plant them in pots, raised beds or garden soil with good drainage in the ground in mounds so the crowns of the plants are above the soil level, about 18 inches apart.
Keep them well watered and give them a balanced fertilizer. Cut off any runners until after they have produced their crop. Protect them from birds with netting and use organic bait for slugs and snails.
The purpose is to increase the awareness and understanding of the importance of soil for food security and ecosystem functions. For more information go to the International Year of Soils set up by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
Meanwhile, what have you done to contribute to your soil lately? You might want to begin by having your soil tested to see if it is lacking in any of the basic components, or add a soil amendment, or improve your drainage.
The UCCE Orange County Master Gardeners offer information on all kinds of soil issues at the following website: Soil Management. Good luck and enjoy celebrating your soil this year!
Is it being a bit presumptuous that you even have a love of technology? Well maybe this will act as an introduction for you.
There are a number of applications on the market for your smart phone or tablet that cater to the backyard gardener that you might find useful. All these apps will work on universal platforms.
- Garden Plan Pro:A large plant database and calendar will help you identify what you would like to plant and when to plant it. Crop rotation help and weather information for your area makes this an essential for both the casual and the serious gardener. A bit pricey at $7.99
- Garden Compass Plant and Disease Identifier: When preparing to start a garden, it is essential to know what you are planting. If you are not sure, simply take a photo of a plant and Garden Compass will tell you what it is. There are over 1,000 pictures, as well as the ability to share your photos over social networks. This app is free.
- Garden Minder: This app features built in how-tos and reminders for vegetable gardens to ensure that you will plant your largest harvest to date. There is also a handy journal for you to keep pictures and take notes in. This app is free.