Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

May, 2008
Regional Report

Spotting Tomato Hornworms

When hand-picking those hard-to-see tomato hornworms, sprinkle the plants lightly with water first. Then as the hornworms wiggle to shake off the water, you can easily see them and remove them.

Spread Mulch Under Berries

Renew mulch under grapes and berries. Strawberries and blueberries benefit from loose, acid mulch such as pine needles or rotted sawdust. Raspberries and blackberries prefer a hay or straw mulch.

Destroy Diseased Leaves

Carefully collect and destroy all leaves affected by peach leaf curl or other diseases. Do not compost these leaves or use them as mulch because they can spread the diseases.

Tip-Prune Bloomers

Prune tips of azaleas, carnations, chrysanthemums, fuchsias, geraniums, impatiens, lavender, marguerites, marigolds, petunias, rhododendrons, rosemary, sedums, and zinnias to gently shape the plants and encourage them to bush out. Root these cuttings for more plantlets to share with friends. Cut back spring-blooming shrubs and vines, including clematis and wisteria, after they've finished blooming to shape them and promote flowering wood development for next year. For bushier mums with lots of blooms this fall, pinch back stems after each 6 inches of growth. Continue pinching until July, then let growth develop naturally, staking as desired.

Pull Weeds Before They Flower

Continue pulling weeds before they form flower heads or scatter their seeds and you'll have fewer weed problems later. Watering the day before weeding will ease the chore and help the root systems loosen more readily. If you leave pulled weeds in garden pathways for dry mulch, be sure to leave them with their roots up so they don't reroot. But don't leave weeds that have already developed their seedheads; some seeds may mature and germinate next year. You don't want your weeds to recycle themselves!

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