Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

June, 2010
Regional Report

Follow Heavy-Feeders With Lighter Ones

When replanting areas where you've just grown vegetables, follow heavy-feeding leafy vegetables like spinach and cabbage with nitrogen-replenishing legumes such as peas, beans and soybeans, or plant a less-demanding root crop.

Efficient Veggies

Some vegetables are more efficient than others, producing more food for the amount of garden space they use and the time they require from you. Carrots, cucumbers, onions, potatoes, summer squash, and tomatoes produce the most. Yields of cucumbers, squashes and tomatoes can be even greater when they are grown on trellises, saving soil space for growing more crops.

Concentrate Melon Sweetness

Keep melon plants growing strongly throughout the season for best quality fruit. Almost half of a melon's final sugar content develops during the last week of maturation, so stop irrigating then to concentrate the sugars. Optimum plant spacing for maximum sweetness is six square feet per plant.

Shape Hedges

Prune or shear hedges so the top is slightly narrower than the base. Otherwise, the "bare bones" will show below a puff top of foliage as the wider top shades out the foliage at the base.

Night-Blooming Cereus

Enjoy your night-blooming cereus for up to a week by cutting and refrigerating the blossoms. Cut them when they're open the widest, before they begin to close, and place them in a quart jar with water covering the cut edge of the stem. Replace the jar's top or secure a plastic bag to the top of the jar with a rubber band. Place the jar in a spot in the refrigerator where you can enjoy the bloom each time you open the door. Because it's cold and dark in there, the blossom thinks it's still night and stays open for up to a week. Another trick to keep the cereus bloom from closing is to melt a few drops of candlewax into the center. This allows you to enjoy the bloom and its fragrance in an arrangement at room temperature for two or three days.

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