Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

April, 2006
Regional Report

Plant Warm-Weather Veggies

Now's the time to sow or transplant vegetables and fruits that prefer very warm weather to mature. These include beans, corn, cucumbers, eggplants, melons, peppers, pumpkins, and squash. They will do better when they have consistently warm soil and air temperatures. Planting them into the soil when air temperatures are still cool results in growth stress, which is difficult for the plants to overcome. Peppers, especially, will just sulk if their roots are chilled, and they won't recuperate quickly. Best to just wait till the soil has warmed before planting them.

Dealing With Tomato Hornworms

If hornworms have plagued your tomatoes in the past, consider planting cherry tomatoes. Their thicker skins and higher alkaloid content seem to repel the worms. Adult hornworms are the larval form of large, fast-flying, mottled gray or brown moths that will hover near tubular flowers at dusk later this summer. As you work your soil prior to planting, destroy the pupae -- the hard, brown, 2-inch, spindle-shaped cases with a handle that are buried 3 to 4 inches underground.

Give Veggies Slow Food

Fertilize vegetables with manure tea or fish emulsion when they are transplanted and every six weeks throughout the season for gradual and gentle feeding.

Plant Summer Bulbs

Plant summer-blooming bulbs, corms, and tubers, including acidanthera, agapanthus, tuberous begonias, caladiums, calla lilies, canna lilies, dahlias, daylilies, gladiolus, iris, ixia, lilies, montbretias, tigridias, tuberoses, and watsonias. Place a tablespoon of a balanced fertilizer, such as 10-10-10, a full inch beneath each bulb to keep the bulb developing.

Pinch for Fullness

For bushier plants with more blooms, pinch new growth of begonias, chrysanthemums, marguerite daisies, dianthus, fuchsias, geraniums, Swedish ivies, wandering jews, iceplants, lavender, peperomias, philodendrons, pilea, and sedums. Root these cuttings for new plants. Pinch bloomed-out branches throughout the summer to keep plants looking neat, and to encourage them to put out new buds.

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