Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

May, 2004
Regional Report

Use Corn Stalks as Bean Stalks

Corn stalks make convenient pole bean supports. Plant the beans after the corn is 6 inches tall -- no sooner -- or the beans will outgrow the corn.

Pea Vines Provide Free Nitrogen

When removing spent pea vines, cut them off at the soil level rather than pulling them out. The roots should have nodules that contain nitrogen, which will be released into the soil as the roots decompose for next year's crop.

Paint Tree Trunks

Paint tree trunks with light-colored, indoor, latex paint to prevent sunburn damage. Use an inexpensive brand, or thin down an expensive one to half paint and half water.

Thin Tree Fruit

Thin grape bunches and marble-size tree fruits to improve the quality of remaining fruit. Tree branches or vines may break if too much fruit is left on them. Remove about half of the number of grape clusters -- even more on young vines. Thin tree fruits on alternate sides of branches for balance. The minimum distance apart is determined by the age of the tree and the size of the mature fruit. Thin to 5 to 8 inches apart on apples, pears, peaches, and nectarines; 4 inches for plums and apricots. In general, leave on the tree or vine only what you will realistically use. Thin too much rather than not enough so trees and vines aren't strained. Nut trees usually take care of their own thinning.

Trim Spring Bloomers

After spring-blooming shrubs finish blooming, trim off the flowers and prune them to improve shape, control growth, and increase next year's flower show.

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