Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

May, 2011
Regional Report

Maturing Garlic, Onion, Shallot Foliage

When foliage on garlic, bulb onions, and shallots begins to dry naturally later this month, stop irrigating. This will encourage the outer layers to dry and provide protection 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.

Pick and Destroy Peach-Leaf Curl Leaves

Carefully collect all leaves affected by peach-leaf curl or other diseases, place them into a plastic bag, and place this into the trash. Do not compost the leaves or use them as mulch, as most compost piles don't get hot enough to destroy the diseases, and they'll spread in the compost or mulch.

Trim Spent Rose Blooms

Every week or so, remove the spent blooms on roses down to the first five-part leaf or a bit further to gently shape the plant. Also, prune out shoots from the rootstocks below the grafts and twiggy growth, especially in the center of the plant, for better air circulation. Water only in the mornings, so water on the foliage dries before sunset, lessening mildew and other disease problems.

Change Lawn Watering Frequency

Grass will tell you when it needs to be watered -- it will wilt slightly and turn from bright green to dull green. Moisten the soil down to the bottom root tips (6 to 12 inches deep). This will allow the surface of the soil to dry slightly between waterings and encourage deep rooting. Diseases develop when grass blades and the soil surface are constantly wet, especially when the weather's warm.

Attract Bees and Butterflies

Bees provide pollination and will come more readily to your garden if you provide them with their favorite plants -- including basil, borage, calendula, catnip, hyssop, lemon balm, mint, summer savory, thyme, and other plants with blue flowers. To attract butterflies to your garden, plant asters, lantanas, buddleias ("butterfly bush"!), marigolds, sweet Williams, tithonias (Mexican sunflower), zinnias, and other daisy-like flowers.

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