Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

July, 2007
Regional Report

Watering Melons

Water and fertilize melons deeply once a week for juicy, fleshy fruits. Hold off irrigating about a week before they will fully ripen so their sugars will concentrate. Protect melons from snails and slugs by lifting the fruits onto cans, berry baskets, or boards. Also, spread crushed eggshells under each plant so deter snails and slugs. Set metal cans and aluminum pie pans next to fruits to reflect heat from the sun onto the fruits.

Pinching Herbs

Pinch back herbs to encourage branching, and use the clippings either fresh or dry. Their flavor is at its peak just before they flower, so harvest them early in the morning after the dew has dried but before the day becomes warm and the fragrant oils dissipate. If you can smell them, it's too late; wait till the next day.

Harvesting Onions and Garlic

If onion and garlic globes have reached full size but foliage has not yet slumped and dried, stop irrigating and bend the stalks to the ground. Allow a month or so for them to dry prior to harvest. Avoid bruising the bulbs during harvest, and let them cure in a single layer on slats or screens in a dry, well-ventilated place. They're ready to store when the foliage and outer layers are dry and papery. Store the bulbs in a cool, dry place where air can circulate. Any with soft, thick necks or bulbs that are not thoroughly dried should be used first, as they will spoil in storage. Check the stored batch once a week, and toss or use immediately any that begin to spoil.

Divide Crowded Iris

Dig and divide bearded iris clumps if they're crowding each other or if they didn't bloom well last spring. Break off and discard the older central rhizomes that have no foliage. Let the young, healthy rhizomes dry out of the direct sun for several hours so a callous forms over the break before replanting it. On rhizomes with foliage, clip roots to 2 inches in length, remove individual dry leaves, and clip the rest to about an 8-inch fan. Dig compost and bonemeal into the top 6 inches of soil. Replant the rhizomes a foot apart but deep enough to just barely cover the rhizome with soil. Water them in.

Mowing for a Healthy Lawn

Continue to mow lawns at 2 or 3 inches high to keep grass roots shaded. If your lawn gets very long, don't cut down to 2 or 3 inches in one pass or it will be susceptible to shock and sunburn; cut it once, then cut it again a day later. Also, keep your lawn mower blades sharp. Dull blades may require as much as three times the power of sharp blades to do the job, and they tear the edges of the blades, making the lawn more susceptible to stress and diseases.

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