Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

June, 2004
Regional Report

Be Discriminating With Manure

Manure can be applied as mulch directly onto globe artichokes, asparagus, cabbages and other cole crops, corn, cucumbers, melons, and squash. But keep it away from beans, beets, carrots, lettuce, peas, sweet and white potatoes, and tomatoes or it will encourage too much foliage at the expense of the edible parts we want.

Drying Onions

Thick-necked onion varieties are more vulnerable to infection because they dry more slowly and less completely than thin-necked ones. Eat these first. Store the thoroughly dried onions in a shaded, cool, dry, well-ventilated area. Check them periodically, and eat any that show signs of spoilage.

Trim Bloomers

Remove spent blooms and cut back shrubs, including azaleas, camellias, forsythia, flowering quince, lilacs, rhododendrons, spiraea, Rosa hugonis, and weigela. Remove old, deformed, and dead branches at the soil level, and trim off about a third of the old growth. Prune wisteria to shape and control its growth. Pinch back tips and faded blooms from alyssum, tuberous begonias, carnations, chrysanthemums, dianthus, delphiniums, fuchsias, geraniums, hydrangeas, lobelias, marguerites, and penstemons to encourage bushier growth and more flowering.

Set Proper Mowing Height

Proper mowing helps grass grow deeper roots and encourages much side-branching for a thicker carpet. For perennial ryegrass, Kentucky bluegrass, and tall fescues, set mower height at 2 to 3 inches. For common Bermuda lawns, set it at 1 inch; for hybrid Bermudas, 3/4 inch; for St. Augustine, 1-1/4 inches. Mow often enough so you never remove more than a third of the length of the grass blades or you'll stress the plants. Keep mower blades sharp; when blades are dull, more gas or electricity is needed to mow, and rough edges of grass blades invite dieback and diseases.

Prolong Night-Blooming Cereus Blossoms

Enjoy your night-blooming cereus for up to a week by cutting and refrigerating the blossoms. Cut them when they're open the widest --before they begin to close -- and place them in a quart jar with water covering the cut edge of the stem. Replace the jar's top or secure a plastic bag to the top of the jar with a rubber band. Place the jar in a spot in the refrigerator where you can enjoy the bloom each time you open the door. Because it's cold and dark in there, the blossom thinks it's still night and stays open for up to a week. Another trick to keep the cereus bloom from closing is to melt a few drops of candlewax into the center. This allows you to enjoy the bloom and its fragrance in an arrangement at room temperature for two or three days.


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