Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

May, 2008
Regional Report

Plant Warm-Season Crops

Long days and warm temperatures have warmed the soil enough to plant corn, peppers, tomatoes, and cucumbers. Buy small plants from the nursery and transplant them into the garden, or grow from seed. By using a black plastic landscape fabric under these warm-season plants, you will provide a few extra degrees of heat that that will get your crops off to a roaring start.

Fertilize Indoor Plants

Longer days should have your indoor plants growing like weeds right now. Provide the nutrients they need for rapid growth by fertilizing with a slow-release fertilizer. The slow-release granules will deliver nutrients each time you water, ensuring healthy plants throughout the growing season without overfeeding. If your indoor plants have brown tips on the leaves, it means that they have dried out between waterings. Keep the soil evenly moist.

Plant Giant Pumpkins from Seed

Now is the ideal time to get your prizewinning pumpkin off to a good start. Look for seeds of the Atlantic Giant Pumpkin. Select a site in full sun with excellent soil. If the soil is less than perfect, add plenty of organic compost and incorporate it into the existing soil to a depth of at least 24 inches. Protect young pumpkin plants from slugs and snails and stand back! These plants need plenty of room and even more water. Roots grow where the soil is damp. Once blooms begin to form, hand-pollinate the female flowers (female flowers have a swollen bulb at the base) to ensure a successful harvest.

Install Soaker Hoses Around Trees

Redwood trees suffer most from drought. Stressed trees are susceptible to attack from spider mites and other insect pests. Sequoia semperviren has a shallow root system and by installing soaker hoses under the trees now and watering for one to two hours every other week, you will prevent these handsome trees from becoming stressed during hot weather.

Thin Apple Trees

To ensure a harvest of large fruit, thin apples, pears, peaches, and nectarines to one fruit every 6 inches along each stem. This is time-consuming work, but worth the effort. If your trees have not produced fruit even though they flowered, perhaps the problem is that you don't have enough pollinators in your neighborhood. Invite orchard mason bees into your garden by installing a nesting box made by drilling a couple dozen 1/4-inch holes in a piece of lumber and hanging it in a south-facing location.

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Special Report - Garden to Table

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