Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

April, 2011
Regional Report

Add Edible Flowers

Add some edible flowers to your garden for their foliage and their 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 cucumbery flavor. Some marigolds taste unpleasantly strong, but others are mild. Be sure, however, to harvest only flowers and foliage that haven't been sprayed with a pesticide not registered for food.

Control Hornworms On Tomatoes

If hornworms have plagued your tomatoes in the past, consider planting cherry tomatoes. Their thicker skins and higher alkaloid content seem to repel the worm. Adult hornworms are the larval form of large fast-flying, mottled gray or brown moths that will hover near tubular flowers at dusk later this summer. As you work your soil prior to planting, destroy the pupae -- the hard, brown, two-inch, spindle-shaped cases with a handle that are buried three to four inches underground.

Plant Water-Conserving Shrubs

Choose water-conserving blooming shrubs for dry spots, including crape myrtle, oleander, rosemary, and wild or California lilac.

Prune and Plant Groundcovers

Plant or prune ground covers to clear dead portions and stimulate new growth, including ice plant, ivy, potentilla, and wild strawberry. Drought-tolerant choices include coyote bush, creeping coprosma, gazania, Mexican evening primrose, rosemary, and verbena.

Pinch Plants For Bushiness

For bushier plants with more blooms, pinch new growth of begonias, chrysanthemums, marguerite daisies, dianthus, fuchsias, geraniums, Swedish ivy, wandering Jews, ice plants, lavender, pepperomias, philodendrons, pilea, and sedums. Root these cuttings for new plants. Pinch back bloomed-out branches throughout the summer to keep plants looking neat and to encourage them to put out new buds.

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