Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

October, 2012
Regional Report

Pinch Coleus Flowers

Pinch the flowering tips off coleus plants to keep them looking good until the end of the season. Flowering and seed production takes energy away from leaf growth, which is what coleus is all about. Removing the inconspicuous flowers keeps the plant robust the longest.

Groom Fruit Trees

Prepare apple, pear, plum, apricot, and cherry trees for winter by removing any fruit remaining on the tree. Do not compost fruit infested by insects. Rake under the trees to remove fallen leaves and fruit, which may harbor disease spores and insect pests. Once all the leaves have fallen, apply a 4 inch layer of compost around base of the tree, extending from 4 inches away from the base of the trunk to the drip line of the tree.

Remove Long Whips from Wisteria

Vining plants can sometimes get out of control, especially vigorously growing vines such as wisteria. Remove any long whips before they escape into overhead power or telephone lines. Keeping these plants in bounds will make the dormant pruning chore much easier.

Pass the Weeds, Please

Get even with weeds by eating them! Dandelion, chickweed, purslane and lamb's quarters are common greens that are used, and enjoyed, in some regions of the country. Just make sure they have not been sprayed with pesticides or herbicides. Toss dandelion flowers into a green salad for a touch of color and flavor!

Protect Plant from Deer

The deer are coming down out of the hills now in search of water. Until the winter rains begin, hopefully next month, hungry deer will be browsing urban gardens. Protect your plants by using a homemade or commercial deer repellant and applying it liberally. To make your own, mix 1 quart water,1 raw egg, 1 tablespoon liquid soap, and 2 tablespoons fish oil in a blender and allow the mixture to "ripen" in the sun for a few days prior to application with a hand held sprayer. Remaining mix can be kept in the refrigerator. Reapply liberally every few days.

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