Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

May, 2010
Regional Report

Snip, don't pull, spent pea vines

When removing spent pea vines, cut them off at the soil level rather than pulling them out. The roots should have nodules that contain excess nitrogen from their fixation process, and this nitrogen is released into the soil as the roots decompose, available for the next crop's roots.

Sprinkle tomato hornworms

When hand-picking those hard-to-see tomato hornworms, sprinkle the plants lightly with water first. Then, as the hornworms wiggle to shake off the water, you can easily see them and remove them.

Stop irrigating when garlic, onions and shallots begin drying

When foliage on garlic, bulb onions, and shallots begins to dry naturally later this month, stop irrigating. This will encourage the dry outer layers to form on the bulbs--necessary for long storage. When about half of the foliage slumps to the ground naturally, bend the rest to initiate this maturing. The bulbs will be ready for harvest when the foliage is thoroughly dry and crisp.

Fertilize strawberries

Fertilize strawberries with a balanced fertilizer now and after each heavy fruit-bearing period for continued strong growth and fruit set. A seaweed and fish emulsion solution offers many micronutrients which encourage sweetness and flavor. Avoid mulching with manure, however, as strawberries are not tolerant of salt, and manure (especially chicken) has a relatively high level. Even with excellent irrigation and drainage, summer heat will cause this saltiness to burn the berry plants.

Leave spring-blooming bulb foliage

Remove faded blooms and seedpods from spring-blooming bulbs, but leave the foliage on until it dies back naturally. Apply a balanced fertilizer for next year's strong growth and bloom. When the foliage has died back completely and is crisp, crumble it onto the soil surface to replenish the precise balance of nutrients that the roots pulled up for the foliage and bloom.

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