Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

July, 2008
Regional Report

Rejuvenate Petunias

Petunias provide wonderful color in the garden and then, all of a sudden, they get ratty. I like to cut them back mid-season, fertilize, and let them do their thing all over again. Cut leggy petunias back to about 4 inches from the ground, then fertilize with 22-14-14 or 15-30-15 every two weeks until the plants start blooming again.
Caterpillars are a common problem with petunias, so treat with Bt when you see chewed petals. Treat only the plants that are affected.

Remove Tree Ties

Young trees only need to be staked for the first two years of their lives. Remove ties to prevent girdling the trunk and to allow the tree to move slightly in the wind. Movement helps the roots to develop and the trunk to grow larger at the base, which makes a tree stable over its lifetime. Always remove the temporary support stake at planting time. Those 1-inch stakes are only used in transporting the tree to and from the nursery.

Pick Wild Berries

The wild blackberries are early this year. Grab a bucket and head out to where they grow -- along creeks, roadways, and abandonded lots. The recent hot weather has ripened the berries at least one month earlier this year, and are they ever sweet! Protect hands and arms from thorns and keep an eye open for poison oak.

Reduce Water on Tomatoes

Tomatoes are deep-rooted plants that will thrive on weekly watering, even less if your soil is deep and rich. Lay a hose near the base of the plant and allow the water to trickle for an hour or so, moving the hose around the rootball. Tomatoes watered this way will not split or develop tough skins, and best of all, the less water they receive, the more the flavor intensifies. That's why we grow our own!

Caring for Roses

Roses should be blooming beautifully. Cutting mature blooms to enjoy in the home will increase your yield of flowers later in the season. Also apply a complete fertilizer to keep plants blooming through the end of the summer and beyond. Mix chelated iron into the fertilizer if your plants show signs of yellowing leaves. Hand-pick beetles if you see them chewing on the plants. Water deeply at the roots (never overhead!) every week, and watch for signs of fungus disease. Remove infected foliage and do not compost.

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