Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

July, 2012
Regional Report

Keep Tomatoes at Room Temperature

The rich tomatoey flavor and aroma of raw tomatoes is the greatest when the tomatoes are left at room temperature and eaten just after being cut. Refrigeration kills the fragrance. 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.

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.

Pinch for Reblooming

Encourage repeat blooming by pinching or cutting back alyssum, coreopsis, crape myrtles, dahlias, delphiniums, dianthus, fuchsias, gaillardias, lobelia, marigolds, penstemons, petunias, rose-of-Sharon, salvias, and verbenas. Prune chrysanthemums and poinsettias for the last time to encourage them to bush out and keep the stems from becoming scraggly by autumn.

Mow Lawns High

Mow lawns at two or three inches height to keep grass roots shaded. Grass that is shorn too much when mown is susceptible to shock and sunburn. Also, keep your lawn mower blades sharp. Dull blades may require as much as three times the power as sharp blades to do the job, and they tear the grass blade edges, making the lawn more susceptible to stress and diseases.

Water/Feed Every Other Week

Continue watering and feeding the entire garden with a balanced fertilizer and manure tea or fish emulsion every other week or so for steady growth and food production. Foliar sprays of liquid seaweed help trees, vegetables, fruits, and ornamentals withstand heat stress. Pay special attention to shallow-rooted plants, which wilt and dry out quickly in hot, dry weather. Remember to not overhead water late in the day during warm weather, when leaves can't dry off by sunset, as this encourages diseases.

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