Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
August, 2001
Regional Report

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This new variety of Japanese eggplant called 'Pink' produces more fruit when given a mid-season dose of fertilizer.

Taking Care of Veggies

On top of harvesting everything in sight, there's still lots to do in the vegetable garden this time of year. Make the last sowings of summer-maturing crops such as bush beans, cucumbers, oakleaf lettuce, potatoes, New Zealand spinach, and squash. Fertilize tasseling corn, beans, cucumbers, eggplants, and tomatoes that are setting fruit to insure increased yields. Apply a water-soluble fertilizer such as manure tea so it can be used immediately by plants maturing their fruits. During heat waves, water plants well first so the nitrogen in fertilizer won't burn the roots.

Melon Maintenance

Melons are maturing now. Lift fruits off the ground to get them away from soil born and crawling pests such as slugs and wireworms. I like to use boards, cans, or plastic baskets from strawberry picking to prop up the fruits. Stop watering melon plants the week before they're fully ripe to allow sugar to concentrate and to minimize fruit cracking.

Removing Flowers

Some gardeners pinch off the last blossoms of eggplant, pepper, melon, squash, and tomato. Plant energy will be spent maturing fruit that's already set, instead of setting more fruit that won't ripen before fall. I prefer to let plants keep setting fruit until the they die, since the fruits, even if not fully ripe due to cool weather, still taste far better than the store bought stuff.

Strawberry Care

Allow strawberries to root their runners (young plants). These strong new plants will be ready to transplant by October or November. Transplanting in the fall is preferable to spring, because plants can become well-established in warm soil before they slow down with cooler weather. They will benefit from the first burst of spring growth to yield huge sweet fruits next year.

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