Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

July, 2012
Regional Report

Prepare for Fire Season

Do not stack wood piles near buildings. Prune trees and shrubs to prevent them from hanging over the roof. Use a string trimmer to cut down dry native grass growing along property lines. Use barbecue grills on solid surfaces and store briquettes in a covered metal container.

Check Irrigation Systems

Turn on and inspect automatic irrigation systems. Make sure that all emitters are pointed in the correct direction and not watering the sidewalk. Check the heads to see if they are plugged. If a nozzle is blocked, use a wooden tooth pick to dislodge any foreign material. Check the moisture level in garden beds and lawns to ensure that the water is penetrating the surface and reaching the roots. Adjust the clock to provide more or less water, as needed. Check automatic irrigation systems at least every two weeks during the dry season.

Save Egg Shells for Tomatoes

Save your egg shells to spread around the drip line of tomato plants. Tomatoes require a large amount of calcium to prevent blossom end rot, a physiological problem that causes the bottom portion of the fruit to turn black and mushy. Crush empty egg shells and incorporate them into the soil around tomato plants to provide necessary calcium and to improve soil texture.

Harvest Onions and Garlic

Once the tops of onion and garlic plants begin to turn yellow, withhold water until the foliage has turned brown, then carefully dig the bulbs from the ground without damaging the outer skin. A spading fork works well for this purpose. Dig into the soil around the plants with the fork, grasp the foliage near the base and lift. Brush off excess soil and allow the bulbs to rest in a dry, shady area for a few days prior to storage. Once the foliage is completely dry, remove from onions and use it to braid garlic into strings.

Harvest Basil in the Morning

Basil has the best flavor in the morning, before the dew has dried from the leaves. That is when there are the most essential oils in the leaves. Harvest only the tips of the basil to keep plants bushy and full. Frequent pinching will prevent the basil from going to seed, which is the universal signal for all annual plants that it is time to die. Honey bees love basil flowers, so when the plants are beginning to wind down at the end of the growing season, allow them to go to seed for the bees to enjoy.

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