Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

May, 2014
Regional Report

Plant Warm-Season Crops

Plant warm-season crops such as peppers, tomatoes, and cucumbers. Use black plastic mulch under heat-lovers to provide a few extra degrees of heat that they will appreciate.

Fertilize Indoor Plants

Longer days should have your indoor plants growing like weeds right now. Provide the nutrients they need for rapid growth by fertilizing with a slow-release fertilizer. The slow-release granules will deliver nutrients each time you water, ensuring healthy plants without overfeeding. If your indoor plants have brown tips on the leaves, it probably means they have dried out between waterings. Keep the soil evenly moist.

Plant Giant Pumpkins

Now is the ideal time to get your prizewinning pumpkin off to a good start. Look for seeds of the Atlantic Giant Pumpkin. Select a site in full sun with excellent soil. If the soil is less than perfect, add plenty of organic compost and incorporate it into the existing soil to a depth of at least 24 inches. Protect young pumpkin plants from slugs and snails and stand back! These plants need plenty of room. Roots grow where the soil is damp. Once blooms begin to form, hand-pollinate the female flowers (female flowers have a swollen bulb at the base) to ensure a successful harvest.

Watch for Aphids

Warm weather means insects will be hatching ... and hungry! Keep a sharp eye for aphid infestations on roses. There are several ways to control aphids, the easiest being to blast them off the infested plant with a strong jet of water. Or purchase ladybugs and release them in the evening after watering the garden.

Thin Fruit

To ensure a harvest of large fruit, it's time to thin apples, pears, peaches, and nectarines to one fruit every 6 inches along each stem. This is time-consuming work, but worth the effort. If your trees have not produced fruit even though they flowered, perhaps the problem is that you don't have enough pollinators in your neighborhood. Look into importing orchard mason bees into your garden for next year's harvest.

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