Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

September, 2003
Regional Report

Divide Perennials

Divide your perennial plants now. Increase your stock of summer-blooming perennials by digging them from the soil, removing all but a few inches of the top growth, dividing the root ball into several pieces, each containing some foliage and root, then replanting in either garden soil or containers. Water immediately after planting to settle roots.

Check for Grubs

If raccoons, moles, and skunks are tearing up your lawn at night, chances are that there are grubs just under the surface. Hungry nocturnal creatures are looking for tasty grubs this time of year. Left untreated, grubs emerge in the spring as Japanese beetles or other destructive insects. Lift a section of turf with a knife to check for infestation. If there are more than two grubs in a 4-inch area, treat the entire lawn by spraying with beneficial nematodes to control grubs before they burrow deeper into the soil for the winter.

Caring for Container Plants

Container plants need additional care now. The tendency is to continue with a regular watering schedule, but because the days are shorter, plants don't use water as quickly. Always feel the soil prior to watering. If it's dry to the touch, go ahead and water; otherwise, wait one more day. Remove faded flowers, dead leaves, and spent plants from pots to keep them looking their best.

Irrigate Citrus Trees

Prevent citrus trees from drying out as the fruit develops by frequently soaking the soil during the warm weather of fall. To avoid frost damage later on, avoid fertilizing or pruning, which stimulates new growth.

Harvest Fruits and Vegetables

Check your vegetable and fruit crops daily and pick anything that is ripe. Fallen vegetables attract insect pests, such as slugs and earwigs. Make simple earwig traps by rolling newspaper into small sections, dampening them in a bucket of water, and setting them out near susceptible crops. Earwigs are attracted to damp, dark hiding places. Dispose of the rolled traps each morning in a tightly covered container.

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