Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

May, 2008
Regional Report

Spray Off Spittlebugs

Spittlebugs do very little damage, but they are unsightly in mint beds. If you find clusters of bubbles between the leaves and along the stems of soft, new growth, simply wash them off with a strong jet of water.

Groom Ferns

My big ferns have just sent out a burst of new growth. That means that I now have to get on my hands and knees and remove the faded fronds near the base of the plant. It will only take a few minutes and the results will be spectacular. Once I have finished grooming, I will add some slow-release fertilizer (the landlord has forbidden me to use liquid fish).

Fertilize Indoor Plants

Mix a liquid fertilizer one-half strength to fertilize indoor plants monthly while they are actively growing. I water my indoor plants by submerging them to the rim of the pot in a bucket filled with water. When it's time to fertilize, I measure out the recommended amount and add it to the bucket. I keep a large saucer nearby to catch drips after the submersion treatment. Blooming plants such as African violets benefit from bimonthly applications of liquid fertilizer, as well as a continuous source of slow-release fertilizer.

Protect Artichokes From Earwigs

Place several rolls of damp newspaper around the base of your artichoke plants to trap earwigs, which love to hide in damp, dark places. Those darned bugs will chew their way into the heart of the artichoke, making it unsightly. Nothing ruins your appetite like coming in contact with a buggy choke. Remove the damp rolls of paper daily and dispose of them in a tightly covered garbage can. Hand-pick earwigs when you see them on the plants.

Thin Fruit 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. Look into importing orchard mason bees into your garden for next year's harvest.

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