Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

July, 2004
Regional Report

Provide Enough Water for Heavy Drinkers

Tomatoes and other large plants in loamy clay soil use about 1 inch of water in three days of hot dry weather. Rinse the undersides of leaves with water to discourage spider mites. Tomatoes and eggplants especially like this refreshment.

Protecting Ripening Melons

Place ripening melons onto upside-down aluminum pie pans or cans to keep them off the damp soil. The reflected heat and light will help them ripen evenly and sooner than if they were shaded by foliage.

Pinching Herbs

Pinch back herbs to encourage branching, and use the clippings either fresh or dry. Their flavor is at its peak just before they flower. Harvest them 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 till the next day.

Fill Garden Gaps

Fill in garden gaps with summer-into-fall bloomers, especially alyssum, celosia, cosmos, petunias, portulaca, red sage, vinca, and zinnias.

Encouraging More Blooms

Pinch or cut back alyssum, coreopsis, crape myrtles, dahlias, delphiniums, dianthus, fuchsias, gaillardias, lobelia, marigolds, penstemons, petunias, rose of Sharon, salvias, and verbenas. Prune chrysanthemums and poinsettias for the last time to encourage them to bush out and keep the stems from becoming scraggly by autumn, unless you prefer a droopy or curly-stemmed display.

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