Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

August, 2004
Regional Report

Pick Veggies Regularly

Continue to keep vine vegetables (especially beans, cucumbers, squash, and tomatoes) picked, whether or not you will use the harvest that day. If many fruits are allowed to overmature on the plant, production will slow and then cease. If you have kept plants well-picked, but fruit set has stopped, suspect hot weather. Fruit set will begin again about ten to fourteen days after the temperature stays below 90 degrees.

Remove Ragged Leaves

Prune vegetable plants of their leaves that have become ragged from age, disease, or insect attacks. Then water plants well. Healthy new leaves and blossoms will appear, and fruit set will begin again. This is especially effective with beans, cucumbers, and squash.

Make Repeated Sowings

Sow carrots, lettuce, and spinach -- a dozen or so seeds at a time -- every two or three weeks from now through October. This will provide succulent harvests through the winter. Leafy green plants, like lettuce and spinach, that are 3 or 4 inches tall and wide (or carrots that are at least 1/2 inch in diameter) before the first hard frost will be mature enough to provide harvests through early spring. If they're smaller, they'll not provide much to eat until spring, when they may bolt first.

Plant Onions From Seed

Sowing bulb onion seeds now will provide green onions throughout the winter and small bulb onions in late spring. Dig these up when their tops dry, and replant them as sets after the following January's frosts. They will develop into full-sized bulbs during the summer. (The set-size bulbs that are larger than a dime may bolt when replanted, but they can be used in winter recipes as "pearl" onions, or used for their greens.) If this sounds like too long to wait when sets are readily available commercially, consider that many more varieties are available in seed that produce better in our area than the sets, which are generally from the Midwest. Unless you purchase the sets from a reputable nursery as soon as they are put on display in late summer or early fall, chances are they'll bolt because they've been kept too warm for too long. So, as inexpensive as seed is, and as simple as germinating them is, a little effort every so often produces many more quality green and bulb onions.

Prepare Now for Next Year's Berries

Feed and water bramble fruits and strawberries. The size of next summer's fruit is determined this month and next. The more fertilizer and irrigation now, the bigger the berries will be next spring. Propagate bramble fruits by bending the cane tips to the soil surface and burying one or two nodes an inch or so deep.

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