Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

May, 2006
Regional Report

Harvesting Garlic and Onions

When foliage on garlic, bulb onions, and shallots begins to dry naturally later this month, stop irrigating. This will encourage the dry outer layers to form on the bulbs, which is necessary for long-term storage. When about half of the foliage slumps to the ground naturally, bend the rest to initiate this maturing. The bulbs will be ready for harvest when the foliage is thoroughly dry and crisp.

Remove Fruit Tree Suckers

Fruit tree suckers (growing from the base of the plant or tree) and watersprouts (growing straight up from a branch) compete for water and nutrients but bear no flowers or fruit. On citrus, these wayward shoots have long thorns and leaves that look different from those on regular branches. Yank them out or roughly cut or smash them to discourage regrowth. It's nice to know that the rootstock is so healthy, but you want the energy to go into the flowers and fruit.

Paint Fruit Tree Trunks

Paint tree trunks with light-colored indoor latex paint to prevent sunburn damage. Use an inexpensive brand, or thin down an expensive one to half paint and half water.

Pruning Roses

Once a week until fall, prune the spent blooms on roses down to the first five-part leaf or a bit further to gently shape the plant; then feed it lightly, and water. To improve air circulation, prune out shoots from the rootstocks below the grafts, and any twiggy growth, especially in the center of the plant. Water only in the mornings so water on the foliage will dry before sunset, lessening mildew and other disease problems.

Mulch, Mulch, Mulch

Maintain a good mulch of organic matter covering garden soil throughout the summer. This prevents crusting and cracking of the soil surface, holds in moisture, encourages earthworms, moderates soil temperatures for optimum root growth, improves the soil as it decomposes, and prevents weeds from germinating. A 2- to 4-inch layer of mulch decreases evaporation from the soil by 70 percent or more, allowing you to water less often (but still deeply). Keep mulch several inches away from tree trunks and plant stems, however, for good air circulation.

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