Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
May, 2010
Regional Report

Share |

Paint protects trunk from sunburn following winter frost damage, and nasturtium serves as "living mulch."

Summer Fruit Tree Care

Fruit tree "suckers" (growing from the base of the plant or tree) or "watersprouts" (growing straight up from a branch) compete for water and nutrients but bear no flowers or fruit. On citrus, these wayward shoots have long thorns and leaves that look different from those on "regular" branches. Yank them out or roughly cut or smash them to discourage regrowth. It's nice to know that the rootstock is so healthy, but you want the energy to go into the flowers and fruit.

Feed fruit trees, now that they're actively growing. This will provide a good leaf canopy to protect developing fruit and develop a more extensive root system.

Paint tree trunks with light-colored indoor latex paint to prevent sunburn damage. Use an inexpensive brand, or thin down an expensive one to half paint and half water.

Thin grape bunches and marble-sized tree fruits for superior fruit quality. Tree branches or vines may break if too much fruit is left on them. Remove about half of the number of grape clusters--more on young vines. Thin tree fruits on alternate sides of branches for balance. The minimum distance to leave fruits on branches is determined by the age of the tree and the size of the mature fruit. Five to eight inches for apples, pears, peaches and nectarines; four inches for plums and apricots. In general, leave on the tree or vine only what you will realistically use. Thin too much rather than not enough so trees and vines aren't strained. Nut trees will usually take care of their own thinning.

Maintain a good mulch of organic matter covering garden soil throughout the summer. Keep it a foot away from the trunk, but extend it several feet beyond the canopy. Better yet, cover the entire garden! A four-to-six inch layer of mulch decreases evaporation from the soil by more than 70 percent, allowing you to water less often (but still deeply each time). This thick mulch layer prevents crusting and cracking of the soil surface, holds in moisture, moderates soil temperatures for optimum root growth, prevents weeds from germinating, improves the soil as it decomposes, and encourages earthworms. Be sure to water the soil well before laying down the mulch, so you'll be insulating the moisture instead of the dryness.

Care to share your gardening thoughts, insights, triumphs, or disappointments with your fellow gardening enthusiasts? Join the lively discussions on our FaceBook page and receive free daily tips!


Today's site banner is by ge1836 and is called "Coleus Dipped in Wine"