Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

April, 2010
Regional Report

Add Edible Flowers

Add some edible flowers to your gardens for their foliage and blooms. You may already grow some--the edible portions of artichoke, broccoli, and cauliflower are all immature flowers. Nasturtium leaves and flowers taste peppery. Squash blossoms have a cucumber-like flavor. Some marigolds taste unpleasantly strong, but others are mild. Be sure, however, to harvest only flowers and foliage that hasn't been sprayed with a pesticide not registered for food.

Feed With Manure Tea

For gradual and gentle fertilization, feed vegetables with manure tea at transplanting time, and then every six weeks throughout the season. To make manure tea set a container filled with one part manure and two parts water in a sunny spot. Stir the mixture once a week. Within a month, a rich fertilizer tea will be ready to feed plants. Replenishing the container with manure and water after each use will maintain a ready supply throughout the season.

Feed Roses

Feed roses heavily to ready them for their long blooming season. Incorporate manure, bonemeal, and cottonseed meal within the plant's dripline to the depth of three inches, then water deeply. Every week or two until fall, prune the spent blooms down to the first five-part leaf, or a bit further, to gently shape the plant, and then feed lightly and water. This will encourage continuous bloom throughout the season and keep plants healthy. Water only in the mornings or early afternoons to lessen the threat of mildew and other disease problems.

Plant Summer-Color Bulbs

Plant summer-blooming bulbs, corms, and tubers, including acidanthera, agapanthus, tuberous begonias, caladiums, calla lilies, canna lilies, dahlias, daylilies, gladiolus, iris, ixia, lilies, montbretias, tigridias, tuberoses, and watsonias. Place a tablespoon of a balanced fertilizer such as 10-10-10 in the bottom of the planting hole, then cover with a full inch of soil before setting the bulb in place. This will help to nourish the bulb and assure bloom the following year.

Home-Mixed Fertilizer

Make your own complete, slow-release, and fairly well-balanced granulated fertilizer from natural ingredients. Use four parts seedmeal or fish meal; one part agricultural or dolomitic lime; one part rock phosphate or one-half part bonemeal; and one-half part kelpmeal. Seedmeal is any kind of ground-up seed. Cottonseed is the most inexpensive and is easy to work with, but contains the most pesticide residues. Fishmeal tends to be odorous for a day or two after incorporation (just think you're at the beach....). All are high in nitrogen and contain moderate amounts of phosphorus but little potassium.

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