Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

August, 2005
Regional Report

Consider Salt Content of Soil

Some vegetables are more tolerant of salty areas in the garden. If soil has received repeated applications of manure or other concentrated fertilizers, the salt content may be high. Asparagus, beets, kale, and spinach do well under these conditions, but celery, green beans, radishes, strawberries, and most fruits cannot tolerate it. Other vegetables, cantaloupes, figs, and grapes are moderately tolerant.

Freeze Tomatoes

Freeze excess vine-ripened tomatoes for winter use. After washing them, cut out the core, cut them into quarters, and place them on a cookie sheet so the pieces don't touch. When they're frozen, transfer them to bags or containers for use as desired. The peel will slip off easily when the tomato pieces begin to thaw.

Pinch Vigorous Veggies

Toward the end of the month, pinch off the last blossoms of eggplants, peppers, melons, squash, and tomatoes. Plant energy will then be spent maturing fruit that's already set instead of setting more fruit that won't ripen sufficiently before fall (yes, it's coming!).

Clean Up Around Fruit Trees

Water all trees deeply. Pick up and destroy fallen fruit. Prune and destroy dead and diseased limbs, but leave major pruning until winter. When harvesting is over, remove bird netting; if you leave it in place, it will become enmeshed in new shoot growth. Rake the area beneath each tree bare, and apply a new mulch. These clean-up efforts will prevent diseases from spreading and harmful insects from hiding for the winter.

Lightly Prune Flowers

Increase bloom size of chrysanthemums and dahlias by removing half of the new buds. Prolong fuchsia blooms by picking off the faded flowers, yellowed leaves, and fruits. Trim back stems to force side branching and flowering, and fertilize and water them well. Prune summer-blooming shrubs when they've finished flowering. Shape hedges for the last time this season. Continue gently shaping roses after pruning suckers, unwanted branches, and spent blooms; cultivate manure, bonemeal, and cottonseed meal into the top 3 inches of soil, and water deeply.

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