Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

March, 2002
Regional Report

Lettuce Through Summer

For an attractive array of lettuce flavors, textures, and colors, choose varieties from many different types -- dark greens, light greens, reds, bronzes; butterhead, loose-leaf, romaine, and crisp head. (Don't bother with iceberg-type crispheads because they don't have time to develop heads before summer heat arrives, when they'll go to seed.) Sow seeds every three weeks for continuous harvests of young, sweet succulent leaves and heads. Choose varieties that are heat-resistant, bolt-resistant, and less likely to turn bitter when they mature during hot weather.

Inoculate Peas

Peas and other legumes will germinate better when an inoculant of nitrogen-fixing bacteria is used. One way to dust the seeds is to pour them into the package of inoculant, fish them out, and plant them. Moistening the inoculant gets more of it to stick to the seeds. I find it quicker and less messy to pour a line of inoculant directly into the furrow, place the seeds on top of it, then gently draw the soil over the seeds, and water it all in.

Landscaping with Herbs

Herbs to start from seed include anise, basil, chervil, chives, cilantro (coriander), dill, fennel, lavender, marjoram, oregano, parsley, and savory; transplant mint, rosemary, sage, tarragon, and thyme (these don\'t come \"true\" from seed). Herbs make great landscaping plants as well. Chives add attractive, spear-like foliage among blooming plants. Rosemary and wooly thyme make attractive, drought-tolerant, trouble-free ground covers.

Summer Color from Bulbs

Plant summer-blooming bulbs, corms, and tubers -- including acidanthera, agapanthus, tuberous begonias, caladiums, calla lilies, canna lilies, dahlias, gladiolus, hemerocallis, tuberous iris, ixias, tigridias, tuberoses, and watsonias. Repeat plantings through May for continuous bloom through the summer.

Easy Rose Pruning

Rub off new, unwanted foliage on roses, especially when it points in toward the center of the bush. When the growth is young, this pruning is easy -- just the flick of a fingernail will do the job.

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