Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

September, 2009
Regional Report

Keep Seedbeds Moist

Keep seedbeds moist and shaded from hot afternoon sun until the seedlings develop two to four true leaves. After transplanting them, mulch the soil lightly, and add more mulch in October and November for additional frost protection. Keep the mulch an inch away from the plant stems, however, for good air circulation and less potential for disease problems.

Pinch New Blossoms

Pinch out new blossoms and growing tips of melons, winter squashes, and determinate tomatoes to force growth into the fruits that have already set. Any that set from now on won't ripen sufficiently before cool weather comes -- unless you want lots of immature green tomatoes around Thanksgiving. Indeterminate cherry tomatoes, on the other hand, can be allowed to continue setting, as the little fruits ripen more quickly.

Fragrant Sweet Peas

For very fragrant sweet peas, rely on some old-fashioned varieties such as Antique Fantasy and Painted Lady, or new cultivars that have the distinctive fragrance bred back in, like Leamington, Rosy Frills, Royal Wedding, and Snoopea.

Transplant Shrubs and Trees

Transplant shrubs and trees no later than six weeks before the soil temperature drops to 40 degrees or lower to give them enough time to settle in. This is especially helpful for flowering crabapples, forsythias, English ivies, junipers, honey locusts, maples, pines, rhododendrons, spruces, and yews.

Plant Iris, Daylily, Lily

Plant iris rhizomes, daylily crowns, and lily bulbs in well-drained soil amended with organic matter. Irises prefer to sit on top of the soil, with only their roots buried. Daylilies like to be one inch below the soil surface. Lilies need a three-inch layer of humus on top of their roots. Irises can take all the sun they can get, daylilies will bloom nicely in full sun or partial shade, and lilies need their bases shaded but foliage in the sun. Plant lily bulbs as soon as you get them, as they don't ever go fully dormant.

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