Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

June, 2011
Regional Report

Don't Refrigerate Tomatoes

The rich tomatoey flavor and aroma in raw tomatoes is the greatest when the tomatoes are left at room temperature and eaten just after being cut. Refrigeration kills the fragrance. However, if you must store tomatoes in the refrigerator for several days before using them, harvest them early in the day, when they are still cool from overnight and are less sensitive to chilling injury -- that disappointing flavorless mushiness.

Stop Watering Garlic and Bulb Onions

Stop watering your garlic and bulb onions when the foliage begins to dry naturally. Bend the foliage to the ground to encourage the bulbs to form the dry outer layers that are necessary for long storage. Avoid bruising the bulbs during harvest, and cure them in single layers on slats or screens in a dry, shady, well-ventilated place. Make sure the necks of the bulbs are completely dry (crisp and papery) before clipping the foliage or bunching and tying the bulbs. Thick-necked onion varieties are more vulnerable to rot because they dry more slowly and less completely than thin-necked ones, so eat these first. Store the thoroughly dried onions in a shaded, cool, dry, well-ventilated area. Check them periodically, and eat any that show signs of spoilage.

Leave Corn Suckers

Removing suckers that form at the base of cornstalks will not increase (and may even decrease) yields. The extra leaf surface of the suckers increases photosynthesis, which provides more food for the developing ears. However, remove any ears that form on the suckers, as these will take energy away from the main, full-sized ears.

Feed Fruit Trees

Feed fruit trees approximately every three weeks during their growing season with a half or quarter dose of fertilizer to encourage them to produce fruit and grow strongly for next year's fruit.

Pinch Faded Blooms

Pinch back tips and faded blooms from alyssum, tuberous begonias, carnations, chrysanthemums, dianthus, delphiniums, fuchsias, geraniums, hydrangeas, lobelias, marguerites, and penstemons to encourage bushier growth and more flowering.

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