Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

April, 2005
Regional Report

Plant Edible Flowers

Add to your garden some edible flowers for their foliage and their blooms. You may already grow some -- the edible portion of artichokes, broccoli, and cauliflower are all immature flowers. Nasturtium leaves and flowers taste peppery. Squash blossoms have a cucumber-like flavor. Some marigolds taste unpleasantly strong, but others are mild. Be sure, however, to harvest only flowers and foliage that haven't been sprayed with a pesticide not registered for food.

Foiling Tomato Hornworms

If hornworms have plagued your tomatoes in the past, consider planting cherry tomatoes. Their thicker skins and higher alkaloid content seem to repel the worms. Adult hornworms are the larval form of large, fast-flying, mottled gray or brown moths that will hover near tubular flowers at dusk later this summer. As you work your soil prior to planting, destroy the pupae -- the hard, brown, 2-inch, spindle-shaped cases with a handle that are buried 3 to 4 inches underground.

Fertilize With Manure Tea and Fish Emulsion

For gradual and gentle feeding, fertilize vegetables with manure tea or fish emulsion when they are transplanted and every six weeks throughout the season. Make manure tea by placing a container in the sun and filling it with one part manure and two parts water. Stir the mixture once a week. Within a month, a rich fertilizer tea will be ready to feed plants. Replenishing the container with manure and water after each use will maintain a ready supply throughout the season.

Fertilize Trees

Feed all trees heavily for strong growth and good fruit production. Top-dress them with compost and fertilizers high in nitrogen (fish emulsion, chicken manure, cottonseed meal, blood meal), and phosphorus (bone meal and rock phosphate). Keep composts, manures, and fertilizers away from tree trunks.

Plant Summer Bulbs

Plant summer-blooming bulbs, corms, and tubers, including acidanthera, agapanthus, tuberous begonias, caladiums, calla lilies, canna lilies, dahlias, daylilies, gladioli, iris, ixia, lilies, montbretias, tigridias, tuberoses, and watsonias. Place a tablespoon of a balanced fertilizer, such as 10-10-10, a full inch beneath each bulb to keep the bulb developing. They should bloom next year.


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