Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

August, 2006
Regional Report

Fertilize Veggies

Fertilize tasseling corn and other vegetables that are setting fruit -- beans, cucumbers, eggplants, tomatoes, etc. -- for increased yields. Plants appreciate this extra boost in nutrients to use in maturing fruits. But during our extra-hot weather, be sure to water the plants well first so the fertilizer doesn't burn the roots.

Pinch Veggie Blossoms

Pinch off the last blossoms of eggplants, peppers, melons, squashes, and tomatoes. Plants can then spend their energy on maturing fruit that's already set, instead of setting more fruit that won't ripen sufficiently before fall cold (yes, it's coming!).

Transplant Strawberry Runners

Allow strawberries to root their runners after they've set their last crop. Strong new plants will be ready to transplant by October or November, and these will yield huge, sweet fruits early next spring. Transplanting in the fall is preferable to the spring, so the plants become well-established in warm soil long before their spring burst of growth. Spring-transplanted plants barely get established before summer heat arrives, and very few fruits will bear before the following year. By that time, the mother plants will have already separated into many smaller plants, each vying for the same nutrients and water. Besides, it's much more pleasant working in the cool air and warm soil of fall than in the cold air and cold wet soil of spring, when your schedule is already full of tasks that must be done only then.

Stop Fertilizing Trees

Stop feeding trees later this month, or the resulting tender new growth will be damaged by winter frosts. The gradually cooling weather and lack of additional nitrogen fertilizer during fall will help harden exuberant summer growth to withstand winter's cold.

Harvest Flowers for Drying

Choose a dry, sunny day to harvest globe amaranth, baby's breath, cockscomb, lunaria, strawflower, and statice for drying. Cut them before they're fully open, or they'll shatter as they dry. Hang stems upside-down in an airy room to cure.

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