Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

June, 2003
Regional Report

No Squash Fruit Yet?

If your first squash blossoms don\'t set fruit, don\'t worry. They\'re probably just male blossoms. Once the female blossoms (the ones with the miniature squash at the base of the flower) start appearing along with the male flowers -- and bees are present to pollinate them -- fruit set should take place.

Pick and Pick and Pick

Keep vegetables picked often, even if you don't plan to use that day's harvest immediately. Vegetables that aren't harvested soon enough will produce a chemical that inhibits further blossoming. Check plants at least every other day during the summer. This is especially true for beans, cucumbers, eggplant, squash, and tomatoes.

Leave Cornstalk Suckers

Removing suckers that form at the base of cornstalks will not increase (and may even decrease) yields. The extra leaf surface of the suckers increases photosynthesis, which provides more food for the developing ears. However, remove any ears that form on the suckers, as these will take energy away from the main, full-sized ears.

Plant for Late-Summer Blooms

For late-summer color from bulbs, plant tuberous begonias, cannas, gladiolus, montbretias, and tigridias. Store spring-flowering bulbs in a cool, dry, dark place. Lift and divide daffodils and bearded iris if they are crowded or didn\'t bloom well this spring. Replant them in soil enriched with compost and rock phosphate.

Root Woody Cuttings

Root woody cuttings of azalea, chrysanthemum, carnation, fuchsia, and hydrangea. Choose growth that is somewhat woody and not still bright green and pliable. Cut a 5- or 6-inch piece, and strip off all of the leaves but the tiny young top growth and one or two well-developed leaves. Place the cutting in light, sandy soil or planting mix up to the bottom leaf. Sprinkle the foliage and thoroughly wet the soil mixture. Cover loosely with a clear plastic bag to increase the ambient humidity. Provide filtered light in a sheltered location and keep soil mix moist until the rootings are well-established, in about a month. Then they can be transplanted.

Long, supple branches of azaleas, forsythias, and viburnums can be rooted for new plants. Bend branch tips to a shallow ditch a foot long. Cover the branch with soil up to the top cluster of new foliage. Hold it in place with a rock. Keep the soil moist. Rootlets will form, and new plants will be ready for transplanting in about a year.

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