Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

July, 2006
Regional Report

Favorite or New Plant

Bearded Iris
Now's the time to dig and divide bearded iris clumps if they're crowding each other or if they didn't bloom much. Break off and discard the older central rhizomes that have no foliage. Let the young, healthy rhizomes dry out of the direct sun for several hours so a callous forms over the break before replanting it. On rhizomes with foliage, clip roots to 2 inches in length, remove individual dry leaves, and clip the rest to about an 8-inch fan. Dig compost and bonemeal into the top 6 inches of soil. Replant the rhizomes a foot apart but deep enough to just barely cover the rhizome with soil. Water them in.

Clever Gardening Technique

Sandwich for Outdoor Drying
Make a "sandwich" rack for drying fruit outdoors. Place a second rack on top of the fruit, and flip the "sandwich" each time the fruit needs to be turned. Use a single or double layer of cheesecloth to separate the fruit from the rack. Oven racks are ideal for big fruits like peaches and nectarines. Cake-cooling racks, with their crosshatched support wires, are better for smaller fruits like strawberries and cut-up larger fruits and vegetables like tomatoes and rhubarb.

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