Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

July, 2003
Regional Report

Destroy Smutty Corn

Corn planted this late in the season may develop problems with smut (the enlarged grey-black pods) when it\'s harvested in September. Destroy -- don\'t compost -- these infected ears carefully to prevent spreading the spores.

Spread Manure Mulch

Manure can be applied as a mulch directly onto globe artichokes, asparagus, cabbages and other cole crops, cucumbers, melons, sweet corn, and squash. Keep it away from the stems and foliage so it doesn\'t burn them. Avoid high-nitrogen fertilizers on beans, beets, carrots, parsnips, sweet and white potatoes, and tomatoes, or there\'ll be more foliage than fruit.

Keep Herbs Producing

Pinch back herbs to encourage branching, and use the clippings either fresh or dry. Their flavor is at its peak just before they flower, so harvest early in the morning after the dew has dried but before the day becomes warm and the fragrant oils dissipate. If you can smell them, it\'s too late; wait until the next day.

Divide Iris

Dig and divide bearded iris clumps if they're crowding each other or didn't bloom too much last spring. Break off and discard the older central rhizomes that have no foliage. Before replanting, let the young, healthy rhizomes dry out of the direct sun for several hours so a callous forms over the break. On rhizomes with foliage, clip roots to two inches in length, remove individual dry leaves, and clip the rest to about an eight-inch fan. Dig compost and bonemeal into the top six inches of soil. Replant the rhizomes a foot apart but deep enough to barely cover the rhizome with soil. Water them in.

Tear Suckers

Tear -- don't just trim -- rose suckers off at the base with a harsh downward and outward pull. Don't be gentle; you want to remove the buds at the base so the suckers don't regrow.

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