Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

September, 2010
Regional Report

Push Still-Ripening Veggies

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

Primary Anti-Pest Technique

Hose off plant foliage--both top and underneath leaf surfaces--to lessen insect populations. This is especially helpful to get rid of aphids, caterpillars, mealybugs, spider mites and whiteflies on beans, collards, kale, tomatoes and roses. Be sure to do this early enough in the day (preferably early morning) so that the foliage can dry completely by sunset.

Last Feeding for Strawberries

Strawberries with whitish or yellowish leaves need to be fertilized one last time with a high-nitrogen food. After that, fertilize them with a low-nitrogen, high-phosphorus, and high-potassium fertilizer to help them harden off for the winter.

Cut Back Bloomed-Out Plants

Cut back alyssum, coreopsis, marguerite and Shasta daisies, delphiniums, dianthus, felicias, gaillardias, geraniums, ivies, lantanas, lobelias, petunias, and santolinas to one-third or one-half of their present size. However, don't cut them back beyond the green foliage to the older woody growth, as this may kill the plant.

Then Root the Cuttings

Root the cuttings of semi-woody plants, including fuchsias, geraniums, hydrangeas, ivies, and marguerite daisies. Remove all but the top four leaves, and bury at least two nodes (but preferably four or five) on the stem in damp sand or a moist soilless potting mix. They should be ready to transplant in two months.

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