Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

March, 2010
Regional Report

Six Hours Is Good, Eight Hours is Better

An average of six hours of direct sun daily is the minimum amount necessary for leaf and rooting crops like lettuce and carrots. At least 8 is necessary for blossoming and fruiting crops like tomatoes and squash.

Gentle Seedlings

Be gentle with all seedlings. Handle the little plants by their root clumps or leaves rather than stems, and never squeeze them tightly. They will grow new leaves and roots, but can't develop new stems.

Broccoli Harvesting

When harvesting broccoli, cut the head at an angle with a sharp knife. Snapping or cutting flat across the stem leaves creates an uneven surface where water can collect--since a callous can't form, decay can start. Also, cutting too far down the stem, where it is hollow, provides a cavity that can collect water and decay can set in. Excessive nitrogen, which makes the plant grow too fast, causes a hollow stem.

Asparagus Harvesting

Harvest asparagus spears when they're three-eighths of an inch wide or larger. Cut them no lower than soil level to avoid damaging the crown. Harvesting smaller spears, or harvesting for too long a period, especially from young plants, weakens the plant and lessens later harvests. Be overgenerous towards the young plant by not harvesting too much, and your plant will increase future harvests because it has gained strength.

Planting Summer Bloomers

Plant summer-blooming bulbs, corms, and tubers-- including acidanthera, agapanthus, tuberous begonias, caladiums, calla lilies, canna lilies, dahlias, gladiolus, hemerocallis, tuberous iris, ixias, tigridias, tuberoses, and watsonias. Repeat plantings through May for continuous bloom through the summer. If you still have some unplanted spring-blooming bulbs that are firm and solid, plant them immediately in rich soil. They'll probably not bloom this year, but they'll develop further and bloom next year. If not planted, they'll shrivel away to nothing. These left-over bulbs can also be potted up for forcing. Place them in the refrigerator for eight to ten weeks, keeping the soil moist but not soggy. They should bloom after another three weeks in a brightly lit area.

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