Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

June, 2004
Regional Report

Keeping Herbs Happy

Lavender, marjoram, rosemary, sage, savory, and thyme do fine in hot sun and poor but well-drained soil with minimal fertilizer. On the other hand, basil, chives, coriander (cilantro), and parsley prefer richer soil with more frequent watering.

Distinguishing Male and Female Squash Blossoms

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 larger, rounded base) start appearing along with the male flowers and the bees, fruit set should take place.

Deter Snails and Slugs

Protect vining vegetables from snails and slugs by lifting the fruits up onto cans, berry baskets, or boards. Also, spread crushed eggshells under each plant; the snails and slugs will avoid the sharp particles.

Start Bloomers

Sow or transplant alyssum, globe amaranth, celosia, cleome, coreopsis, cosmos, foxgloves, gazanias, marigolds, nasturtiums, nicotianas, portulaca, salvias, sanvitalia, statice, sunflowers, tithonias, and zinnias. Transplant ageratums, asters, fibrous begonias, caladiums, calendulas, campanula, clarkias, dahlias, gloriosa and marguerite and Shasta daisies, dianthus, dusty miller, forget-me-nots, gaillardias, geraniums, hibiscus, hollyhocks, hostas, iceplant, ivies, impatiens, lantanas, lavender, linarias, lobelias, michaelmas daisies, penstemons, periwinkle, petunias, phlox, potentilla, rudbeckia, stocks, verbenas, and violas.

Feed Everything

Feed all plants with a balanced, slow-release fertilizer containing micronutrients in addition to the basic nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (N- P-K). Well-nourished plants not only develop into stronger plants and produce flowers and fruits and vegetables longer, they are better protected against insects and diseases and can better withstand heat and water stress. An excellent "garden tea" fertilizer solution for general garden use is a mixture of 1 tablespoon fish emulsion, 1/2 teaspoon seaweed or kelp, and 1 gallon water. Spray this onto leaves, and water root zones of vegetables, ornamentals, trees, and vines every two weeks throughout the growing season. This fertilizer will help increase plant vigor and reduce insect damage. When applied later in the fall, it will help harden off plants for cold weather.

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