1. Visit the great gardens in our area this week. Don't wait or you will miss the show. Take notes, pictures and if you see a gardener, ask questions.
Gardens to visit are Filoli in Woodside, Gamble Garden in Palo Alto, Sunset Magazine in Menlo Park, Hakone Gardens in Saratoga, the Japanese Garden in San Mateo Central Park, Strybing Arboretum in Golden Gate Park and the Japanese Tea Garden also in Golden Gate Park.
2. Visit at least four nurseries and take notes on what is available now in six-packs and 4-inch pots. Look at the annual flowers, the vegetables, perennials and the ornamental plants for color, texture and foliar show.
3. Ask the nursery experts what is coming for summer. If their supply is already in, ask to be shown what is new and what will be the best for your garden environment (sun, shade, drought-tolerant, etc.).
4. Buy compost or screen out your compost in your bin. Plan on having enough to put a 3-inch layer over all of your beds.
5. Plant strawberries, cucumber, squash, zucchini and any other gourds on mounds. When any of these fruit sit on the damp ground they rot.
6. Plant tomatoes, and plant them two leaf nodes up the stem. This will get roots started deeply and near the surface. Put a fish head and skeleton in the hole before you plant.
7. Play classical music to your plants. For proof that this works go to Half Moon Bay Nursery on Highway 92 just east of Half Moon Bay and look at all the flowers they have growing. They constantly play opera music to the whole nursery.
8. For ornamental beds, plant ground covers and borders to provide a living mulch and a colorful framing for walkways, beds and berms. This technique is centuries-old and still creates a stunning effect.
9. This is a good time to buy roses. When the buds open up in the nursery you can see the actual color of the flower. Remember that roses are a full sun plant and also like to be fertilized regularly in order to bloom through the summer.
10. Finish up your plantings with mulch. I like fir bark, leaf and chip litter and wood chips for ornamental applications and hay, straw and organic compost for herb and vegetable gardens.