In the Garden:
Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
August, 2010
Regional Report

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Propagate succulent plants, such as this magnificent Aeonium, in late summer.

Late Summer Chores

Rose Care
The roses seem to be suffering from black spot this year, more so than in the past. It must be the cool weather we have been experiencing. Henry wants me to use Bayer All-In-One, which is a combination of fertilizer/pesticide/fungicide that works systemically. Since going through the cancer treatments in 2001, I have opted not to use pesticides. However, that doesn't mean that Henry can't apply the product. He always seems to be too busy though... I will address the problem in the dormant season with a copper/oil spray. In the mean time I keep the soil under the plants as clean as possible and live with the fungus on the foliage.

Weeding, Pruning and Sabotage
Gardening is a matter of tolerance. How many weeds can you stand to look at? I have some tenacious weeds beginning to appear in the vegetable garden, but they are not so large as to demand my attention just yet. The ceonothus is hanging over the path but there are a few late season blooms hanging on, so I will wait to cut them back. The Mexican marigold is getting ready to make its burst of growth, as is the Mexican sage. Every year both grow far too large for their allotted space, but I can't bear to cut them when they provide so much color in the dog days of late fall and early winter. The mow and blow guys want to put herbicide on the lawn to get rid of the weeds there. I didn't tell them that I have been planting meadow seeds in the lawn, preferring a more natural green space over a manicured patch of turf grass. I never did care for lawns...

Kimmie vs Gopher
The gopher is alive and well and dining on the dahlias tubers that I planted in the early spring. He waits just long enough for the foliage to set buds, then gobbles the tuber. I never even get to see what color the flowers are. I wonder why he doesn't eat weed roots? A matter of preference I suppose. Everyone is telling me to set traps, but I just don't have the heart for that. I'm trying to out-plant him. After all, how much can one little gopher eat?

Tomato Trials
I moved the tomatoes to the upper cutting garden bed this year. The soil in the vegetable garden is contaminated with Fusarium, a soil inhabiting fungus disease. I'll plant nitrogen fixing plants there for a couple of years before I plant tomatoes in that bed again. The tomatoes seem slow this year, but again, this may be because of the cool summer weather. Perhaps the soil isn't as rich in the upper beds. I have been compensating for the soil by fertilizing the tomatoes every week with a combination of liquid fish fertilizer and "moo tea," a concoction I make by filling an old sock with a trowel full of steer manure and allowing it to soak in a watering can for a few days. Just prior to application, I stir in a tablespoon of the liquid fish fertilizer. My old-fashioned methods are smelly, but the plants don't seem to mind. The upper beds are far enough away from the house as to not bother Henry and, luckily, the the prevailing breeze carries the fishy "pong" in the other direction.

The combination of watering, fertilizing, weeding and thinning the apple crop is keeping me busy. Soon it will be time for fall planting, but in the mean time, I am enjoying the chores of late summer gardening.


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