Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

August, 2008
Regional Report

Pinch Basil

To keep tender new growth coming on established basil plants, pinch the flowers just as they begin to form at the tips of the stems. By pinching, you will force the new growth into the terminal buds, ensuring a continuous crop of tender, tasty leaves. At the end of the season when the leaves begin to get bitter, allow the flowers to form. Honeybees love them!

Harvest Herbs

In the morning before the dew dries from the leaves is the best time to harvest for peak flavor. Cut oregano, marjoram, and thyme before they begin to flower later this month. Secure bunches of stems with rubber bands or twist ties. Hang herbs in bundles in a warm, dry location, such as over the water heater. Once the leaves are dry and crumbly, store in glass containers. Fresh basil leaves can be laid out on paper towels and placed on a cookie sheet in the freezer. Once they freeze, stack and store in plastic bags in the freezer.

Switch Cymbidium Fertilizer

Now is the time to switch your cymbidium orchids from a fertilizer high in nitrogen to a bloom-enhancing product. 15-30-15 or 0-10-10 should be applied between now and March to produce multiple spikes. Keep plants well watered and protected from direct sun unless you live in a cool coastal community.

Patrol for Mosquitoes

It's mosquito-breeding season. Try to eliminate all sources of standing water from your garden to discourage this insidious pest. Mosquitoes will breed in as little as 1/4 cup of water. So be vigilant and empty standing water out of saucers after watering. Resident fish will consume mosquito larvae in ponds. Moving water features do not attract breeding mosquitoes. To enjoy your garden at dusk, when mosquitoes are most active (and hungry), use an electric fan to keep the air moving.

Watering Daphne

Winter-blooming daphne is a gift from above. However, it is very susceptible to fungus disease and water molds. During the dry season, water only when absolutely necessary. Infrequent summer watering will increase flower yield and prevent the infamous sudden death.

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