Green Thumb: Winter planting for spring
by Sue Davis
Oct 24, 2013 | 8889 views | 0 0 comments | 484 484 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Fall is the time of year when gardening is all about getting ready for next year. The things you accomplish in your garden before winter will make spring gardening much easier.

Plan for flowers

For spring color, naturalize daffodils, tulips and crocus in sunny areas by broadcasting the bulbs and planting them where they lay.

Plant each bulb in a hole 3 times the height of the bulb with a little compost and bone meal at the bottom.

Other bulbs that add spring beauty include Dutch iris, freesia, ranunculus, narcissus and hyacinth.

Use cool-season annuals — violas, calendulas, stock, Iceland poppies and snapdragons — over bulbs to provide color before and after bulbs bloom.

Bulbs planted in containers now will bloom for indoor color during the holidays.

Gardener’s potpourri

This is also a good time to plant new trees, shrubs and perennials to get them established in the cooler days of fall. Exceptions are frost-tender plants, such as citrus, bougainvillea and mandevilla, which are best planted in spring.

Your lawn may need to be aerated or thatched. This is a good time to plant and fertilize lawns. University of California, Davis, has good information on lawns at this site:

Fall weather brings on snails. Pick them off plants and discard; surround the edges of posts and raised beds with copper barrier tape; or apply bait made with iron phosphate that is safe to use around edibles, children, pets and wildlife.

Tomato hornworms are going into hibernation in the soil beneath tomato plants. Dig down about 4 inches and discard their cocoons, which resemble 2-inch-long reddish footballs.

And finally, be sure to clean all of your gardening tools. Have pruners, mower blades and shears sharpened now so they will be ready for winter pruning and spring use.

• The Green Thumb is a column by Tracy’s master gardeners. University of California-certified master gardeners are available to answer gardening questions from 9 a.m. to noon Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 953-6112 or

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