Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

August, 2004
Regional Report

Local Buzz

Nighttime Harvests
Harvest fruits and vegetables as early in the day as possible, especially if they will not be eaten that day or will be refrigerated. Research at the University of California at Davis has found that the six hours before sunrise are the best times to harvest. As soon as the sun hits the fruits or vegetables, the pulp temperature begins to rise, and even shading them will not delay the temperature rise for long. For every five degrees lower the temperature is when the fruit is picked, you'll get an additional three days of shelf-life. Tomatoes, in particular, develop more chilling injury -- that telltale graininess and mushiness -- when they are cooled after being harvested when thoroughly warm.

Favorite or New Plant

Making More Strawberries
Allow strawberries to root their runners after they've set their last crop. Strong new plants will be ready to transplant by October or November, and these will yield huge sweet fruits early next spring. Transplanting in the fall is preferable to the spring, because the plants will have time to become well-established in warm soil long before their spring burst of growth and fruiting. Spring-transplanted plants barely get established before summer heat arrives so they produce very few fruits before the following year.

Besides, it's much more pleasant working in the cool air and warm soil of fall than in the cold air and cold, wet soil of spring, when your schedule is already full of urgent tasks.

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