Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

October, 2005
Regional Report

Protect Tender Plants

Cover tender plants still being harvested -- beans, cucumbers, eggplants, okra, peppers, and tomatoes -- and keep them well-watered to protect them against early frosts. Don't allow plastic or glass covers to touch the foliage, however, or the frost may damage leaves. Harvest all the fruits before the first hard freeze. If they are exposed to this frost, eat them immediately or they'll spoil quickly.

Plant Fall Broccoli

Just about any broccoli variety will do well in our area. Try "sprouting" kinds for lots of small heads. For brilliant chartreuse, pointed heads that taste milder than regular broccoli, try 'Romanesco', a cross between broccoli and cauliflower.

Harvest Pumpkins, Squash, and Gourds

Pick winter squash, pumpkins, and decorative gourds when the vines are dry and the rinds are hard and resist easy puncture by a fingernail. Cut the stems rather than breaking or tearing them, and leave 2 inches of stem attached to the squash to lessen the chance of spoilage. Gourds will dry quicker if you drill a small hole at each end. Let them cure in a dry, well-ventilated area at room temperature for two weeks. Store cured squash at 50 to 60 degrees F in a dry area. Check them weekly for mold. If any appears, wipe it off with a paper towel moistened with vinegar. Squash should keep up to six months.

Feed Subtropicals

Citrus and avocados need feeding now with a fertilizer containing high levels of phosphorus and potassium but no nitrogen to help them become cold hardy. Keep them well watered, though, until the rains take over.

Give Roses a Last Trimming

Trim roses after their last flush of blooms, but hold off on severe pruning until they're fully dormant, in January. Feed them with a no-nitrogen, high-phosphorus, high-potassium fertilizer to help them harden off.

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