Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

September, 2004
Regional Report

Feed Strawberries

Strawberries with whitish or yellowish leaves need to be fertilized one last time with a high-nitrogen food. After that, fertilize them with a low-nitrogen, high-phosphorus, high-potassium fertilizer to help them harden off for winter.

Sow Edible Cover Crops

When sowing cover crops for fall and winter, consider edible ones. Kale and rocket (roquette, arugula) are full-flavored, leafy vegetables that withstand freezing. Both germinate in cool weather and are welcome fresh greens for stir-fries and soups all winter long. In spring they can be easily turned under as "green manure" when preparing the soil for the main spring and summer crops.

Bring Houseplants Indoors

Bring in houseplants from their summer breather outdoors after grooming them and thoroughly checking them for pests. This is a good time to repot them in fresh potting mix. Toss the old mix out into the garden or onto the compost pile. Keep them in a bright area indoors for three weeks to let them gradually get used to the darker, warmer, and drier indoor conditions. Then move them to their winter homes, but away from drafts and heaters.

Transplanting

Transplant perennials, ground covers, shrubs, and vines while the soil and air temperatures are still warm to give them a full season's root development over those planted in the spring. Set them out in the cooler late afternoons or evenings, and water them in with a mild solution of a balanced fertilizer to promote new root growth and reduce transplant shock. Mulch and shade them lightly for the first week. Add more mulch in October and November for additional frost protection.

Drying Flowers

Dry your own flowers for arrangements. The easiest to dry are baby's breath, bachelor's buttons, bells of Ireland, lavender, scabiosa, statice, strawflowers, and yarrow. All but the bells of Ireland are best air-dried by tying a few stems into a loose bunch, and hanging up the bunches -- flower heads down -- in a cool, dark, dry place for several weeks. Stand the bells of Ireland upright in a container with a half-inch of water; flowers will dry as the water evaporates.

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