Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

May, 2004
Regional Report

Finding Wiggling Hornworms

When hand-picking those hard-to-see tomato hornworms, sprinkle the plants lightly with water first. Then, as the hornworms wiggle to shake off the water, you can easily see them and remove them.

Feed Strawberries

Fertilize strawberries with a balanced fertilizer now and after each heavy, fruit-bearing period for continued strong growth and fruit set. A seaweed and fish emulsion solution offers many micronutrients. Avoid mulching with manure, however, as strawberries are not tolerant of salt, and manure (especially chicken) has a relatively high level. Even with excellent irrigation and drainage, summer heat will cause this saltiness to burn the berry plants.

Plant Shady Bloomers

Blooming plants can brighten shady garden areas and provide lush foliage during hot summers. In dense to medium shade, plant begonias, coleus, and impatiens. In light shade with partial sun, plant ageratum, canterbury bells, lobelia, nicotiana, and salvias.

Include Plants for Butterflies

To attract butterflies to your garden, plant asters, lantana, butterfly bush (Buddleia), marigolds, sweet william, Mexican sunflowers (Tithonia), zinnias, and other daisy-like flowers.

Spread Mulch

Maintain a good mulch of organic matter covering garden soil throughout the summer. This prevents crusting and cracking of the soil surface, holds in moisture, encourages earthworms, moderates soil temperature for optimum root growth, improves the soil as it decomposes, and prevents weeds from germinating. A 2- to 4-inch layer of mulch decreases evaporation from the soil by 70 percent or more, allowing you to water less often (but still deeply). Put soaker hoses under the mulch so the water doesn\'t evaporate. Keep mulch several inches away from tree trunks and plant stems, however, for good air circulation.


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