Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

September, 2013
Regional Report

Pinch Veggie Tips

Pinch out new blossoms and growing tips of melons, winter squash, and determinate tomatoes to force growth into the fruits that have already set. Any that set from now on won't ripen sufficiently before cool weather comes -- unless you want lots of immature green tomatoes around Thanksgiving. Indeterminate cherry tomatoes, on the other hand, can be allowed to continue setting, as the little fruits ripen more quickly.

Sun-Dry Fruit

Sun-dry the last prune plums, grapes, figs, apples, and pears. Be sure to keep the moist pieces separate so the surfaces can form a seal against spoilage.

Bring Houseplants Indoors

Bring in houseplants from their summer breather outdoors after grooming them and thoroughly checking them for pests. This is a good time to repot them in fresh potting mix. Toss the old mix out into the garden or onto the compost pile. Keep plants in a bright area indoors for three weeks to let them gradually get used to the darker, warmer, and drier indoor conditions. Then move them to their winter homes away from drafts and heaters.

Transplant While the Soil is Warm

Transplant perennials, ground covers, shrubs, and vines while the soil and air temperatures are still warm to give them a full season's root development before spring. Set them out in the cooler late afternoons or evenings, and water them in with a mild solution of a balanced fertilizer to promote new root growth and reduce transplant shock. Mulch and shade them lightly for the first week. Add more mulch in October and November for additional frost protection.

Fertilize and Prune for Bigger Flowers in Spring

Switch to a 0-10-10 fertilizer for azaleas, camellias, gardenias, and rhododendrons to encourage formation of next spring's blossom buds. Increase the spring bloom size of azaleas, camellias, and rhododendrons by removing half of the new flower buds. For extra-large camellia blooms, remove all but one bud per branch; leave some farther down on the bush for later bloom.

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