Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

July, 2007
Regional Report

Mulching With Manure

Aged manure can be applied as a mulch around globe artichokes, asparagus, cabbages and other cole crops, cucumbers, melons, sweet corn, and squash. Keep high-nitrogen fertilizers away from beans, beets, carrots, parsnips, sweet and white potatoes, and tomatoes, or there'll be more foliage than fruit.

Irrigating Fruit Trees

Build donut-shaped water basins around trees and shrubs. Start the inner wall of the basin about 2 inches from the plant stem, or a foot away from a tree trunk. Form the outer wall of the basin just beyond the plant's drip line. Once a month, fill the area between the two walls with water. The walls allow it to soak in slowly and deeply. Keeping the water away from the stem or trunk prevents rot. Also, keep mulch the same distance away from the stem or trunk to allow sufficient air circulation for the roots.

Watering Grapes

Water grapes deeply once a week until harvest. Keep grape root zones evenly moist as the harvest approaches to assure full filling out and ripening of the grapes. Enclose whole grape clusters in paper bags for protection from birds and wasps. Excluding light will not affect the ripening or sweetening of the grapes. Slip 8-inch sections of old pantyhose over grape clusters, tying the top and bottom with twist-ties or string tied in a bow. They keep out assorted insects and birds but are easy to remove for harvesting and can be reused each year.

Pinch for Plentiful Bloom

Encourage repeat blooming by pinching or cutting back alyssum, coreopsis, crape myrtles, dahlias, delphiniums, dianthus, fuchsias, gaillardias, lobelia, marigolds, penstemons, petunias, rose of Sharon, salvias, and verbenas. Prune chrysanthemums and poinsettias for the last time to encourage them to bush out and keep the stems from becoming scraggly by autumn, unless you prefer a droopy or curly-stemmed display.

Avoid Evening Watering

Refrain from overhead watering when the evenings remain warm, especially when leaves can't dry off by sunset. Fungal diseases thrive when air temperatures remain between 70 and 90 degrees, and they need only two to four hours of moist, warm conditions to develop.

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