Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

September, 2001
Regional Report

Cover Crops You Can Eat

When sowing cover crops for the fall and winter, consider edible ones. Kale and rocket (roquette, arugula) are full-flavored leafy vegetables that withstand freezing. Both germinate in cool weather and are welcome fresh greens for stir-fry and soups all winter long. In the spring, they can be easily turned under as \"green manure\" when preparing the soil for the main spring and summer crops.

Hurry Summer Ripening


Pinch out new blossoms and growing tips of melons, winter squashes, and determinate tomatoes to force growth into the fruits that have already set. Any that set from now on won't ripen sufficiently before cool weather comes--unless you want lots of immature green tomatoes around Thanksgiving. Indeterminate cherry tomatoes, on the other hand, can be allowed to continue setting, as the little fruits ripen more quickly.

Get a Start on Pruning

Trim off dead or diseased wood and watersprouts (quickly-growing upright shoots) from trees, but leave major pruning for January. Wait until the trees are dormant for heavy pruning.

Bring Houseplants Indoors


Bring houseplants in from their summer breather outdoors after grooming them and thoroughly checking them for pests. This is a good time to repot them in fresh potting mix. Toss the old mix into the garden or onto the compost pile. Keep the houseplants in a bright area indoors for three weeks to let them gradually get used to the darker, warmer, and drier indoor conditions. Then move them to their winter homes--but away from drafts and heaters.

Stabilize Banks with Tires


Old tires can help stabilize embankments. Overlap tires up a slope, filling each with soil and planting ground cover. Both the tires and the roots of the ground cover will help prevent erosion. In addition, the tires retain heat, resulting in extra late fall and early spring growth.

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