Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

May, 2012
Regional Report

Feed Strawberries

Fertilize strawberries with a balanced fertilizer now and after each heavy fruit-bearing period for continued strong growth and fruit set. A seaweed and fish emulsion solution offers many micronutrients. Avoid mulching with manure, however, as strawberries are not tolerant of salt, and manure (especially chicken) has a relatively high level. Even with excellent irrigation and drainage, summer heat will cause this saltiness to burn the berry plants.

Thin Fruit Trees Ruthlessly!

Those fruits are tiny now, but they'll stay tiny -- and mostly pit -- unless you're ruthless in thinning. This means removing half -- yes, half -- of all the fruits. In a month, you'll never know you thinned them! And you'll have much larger fruits that are delicious. Here's how: Thin tree fruits on alternate sides of branches for balance. Five to eight inches for apples, pears, peaches, and nectarines; four inches for plums and apricots.

Prune and Root Cuttings

Prune tips of azaleas, carnations, chrysanthemums, fuchsias, geraniums, impatiens, lavender, marguerites, marigolds, petunias, rhododendrons, rosemary, sedums and zinnias to gently shape the plants and encourage them to bush out. Root these cuttings. Don't allow coleus plants to flower; the blooms are insignificant, and the colorful foliage becomes skimpy.

Invite Bees and Butterflies

Encourage bees to visit your garden for better pollination. They'll come more readily if you provide them with their favorite plants, including basil, borage, calendula, catnip, hyssop, lemon balm, mint, summer savory, thyme, and 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.

Provide Bird Nesting Materials

If you like to provide birds with nesting materials, the Aububon Society recommends staying away from fabric, yarn, and similar materials which hold moisture and can increase the danger of respiratory diseases among baby birds. Instead, provide straw, hair, and other non-absorbent materials.

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