Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

March, 2005
Regional Report

Plan for Lettuce Bouquets

For an attractive array of lettuce flavors, textures, and colors, choose many different varieties: dark greens, light greens, reds, bronzes, butterhead, looseleaf, romaine, and crisphead. Don't bother with iceberg-type crispheads because they don't have time to develop heads before summer heat arrives, when they'll go to seed. Replant the others every three weeks for continuous harvests of young, sweet, succulent leaves and heads. Choose varieties that are heat-resistant, bolt-resistant, and less likely to turn bitter when they mature during hot weather.

Allow Asparagus Stalks To Thicken Up

Harvest asparagus spears when they\'re 3/8 of an inch wide or larger. Cut them no lower than soil level to avoid damaging the crown. Harvesting smaller spears, or harvesting for too long a period -- especially from young plants -- weakens the plant and reduces later harvests. Be overgenerous towards the young plant by not harvesting too much, and your plant will increase future harvests because it will be stronger.

Feeding Fruit Trees

Don't try to rush growth of nectarines, peaches, or plums by providing too much nitrogen. This contributes to generally poor fruit quality -- poor color development, delayed maturity, softness, and reduced storageability. Too much vegetative growth from excessive nitrogen also can result in poor fruit set for the following year. If the trees have good growth with dark green leaves in the spring, they have sufficient nitrogen.

Plant Flower Cuttings

Root cuttings of dianthus, dusty miller, euryops, felicia, fuchsias, geraniums, iceplant, lavender, marguerites, mums, saxifrages, sedums, and succulents. Bury three or four nodes in soil amended with humus. Keep the replanted holes moist until you see new growth, then lessen the frequency -- but not length of time -- of watering. Planting several cuttings in each hole will assure that at least some take. That way, you don't have to replant the spots that died and the area will fill in more quickly.

Give Daffodils and Iris Their Own Vases

Cut daffodils and iris exude a substance that shortens the life of other cut flowers. Place each one in its own container of water for about 6 hours after the stems are cut. Then use another container with new water to make an arrangement with other types of flowers. Add a floral preservative or use one part lemon-lime soda (not diet) to two parts water. Keep the vase away from heaters or sunny windows to lengthen the bloom time.

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