Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

June, 2007
Regional Report

Plant Last Batch of Corn

Corn planted later than this month will probably develop smut problems (those big, grey and black puffs of fungus in place of kernels) when harvested in September. Or, you may choose to inoculate your corn with the fungus -- it's a delicacy in Southwest and Mexican cuisine.

Hand-Pollinate Tomatoes

Simulate wind pollination by flicking each bloom during the driest part of the day. Big plants can be taken care of with one or two shakes while holding onto their cages or stakes. The pollen is naturally sticky, and this helps spread it.

Keep Pickin'!

Pick vegetables often, even if you don't plan to use that day's harvest immediately. Vegetables that aren't harvested soon enough, besides overmaturing, will produce a chemical that inhibits further blossoming. Check plants at least every other day during the summer. This is especially true for beans, cucumbers, eggplants, squashes, and tomatoes.

Successive Planting

When replanting areas where you've just grown vegetables, follow heavy-feeding leafy vegetables like spinach and cabbage with nitrogen-replenishing legumes such as peas, beans, and soybeans; or plant a less-demanding root crop. Don't fertilize the soil again before succession plantings of beans or carrots, since excess nitrogen results in forked and hairy carrots and lush bean plants with few beans. Do add some compost before setting out spinach, kale, and lettuce, since you do want lush foliage in these crops.

Garden Tea

An excellent "garden tea" fertilizer solution for general garden use is a mixture of one tablespoon fish emulsion, one-half teaspoon seaweed or kelp, and one gallon water. Spray this onto leaves, and irrigate root zones of vegetables, ornamentals, trees, and vines every two weeks throughout the growing season. It will help increase plant vigor and reduce insect damage. When applied later in the fall, it will help to harden plants off for cold weather.

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