Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

April, 2012
Regional Report

Favorite or New Plant

Any That Attract Beneficial Insects!
To encourage beneficial insects to populate your garden, provide them with their chosen foods and habitats. Many weeds, including lamb's quarters, nettle, knotweed, pigweed, and cocklebur, as well as many cultivated annuals, perennials, and herbs are food sources for two of the most important orders of beneficials, wasps and flies. Most of these plants are members of two families, the Umbelliferae and the Compositae (or Asteraceae). Umbelliferae such as anise, carrot, caraway, coriander, dill, fennel and parsley have many tiny flowers arranged in tight umbels. Compositae such as black-eyed Susan, goldenrod, and strawflower have central disk flowers surrounded by many ray petals. Mustard flowers attract lacewings (that prey on aphids) and parasitic wasps (that prey on cabbage caterpillars and coddling moths; they don't bother people or pets). Rows or interplantings of these plants can support a large beneficial insect population.

Clever Gardening Technique

Soda Jugs Become Watering Tools
Recycle 2-liter plastic soda bottles into drip-irrigation containers. Punch two small holes into the metal screw-on cap. Remove the hard plastic base, cut off the rounded bottom of the bottle, and replace the base as a cap. Sink the bottle upside down into the soil, and firm it around the bottle to hold it in place. Remove the base (now the top) to fill the bottle with water or fertilizer solution, and replace it to retard evaporation.

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