Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

May, 2004
Regional Report

Plant Warm-Season Crops

Recent hot weather has warmed the soil to a comfortable temperature for warm-season crops, such as peppers and cucumbers. Buy small plants from the nursery and transplant into the garden, or grow from seed. By using a black plastic landscape fabric under heat-loving plants, you'll 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 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 on the Internet. Select a site in full sun with excellent soil. If the soil is less than perfect, add plenty of organic compost and incorporate it 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 and water. 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.

Get Ready to Water Redwood Trees

Redwood trees suffer from lack of water, so if you have any of these handsome trees on your property that aren\'t under irrigation, install soaker hoses for the summer. Stressed trees are susceptible to attack from spider mites and other insect pests. Sequoia Semperviren has shallow roots that depend on summer fog caught in their needle-like leaves for water during the summer months. By installing soaker hoses under the trees now and watering for several hours once a week, you will prevent these handsome trees from becoming stressed during hot weather.

Thin Fruit

To ensure a harvest of large fruit, it's time to thin apples, pears, peaches, and nectarines to one fruit every 5 inches along each stem -- about the width of your fist. 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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