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GARDEN JOBS

A Hot Weather Friend

July 20, 1986|GEORGE HARMON SCOTT and BILL SIDNAM

Vinca rosea, Catharanthus roseus , sometimes called Madagascar periwinkle, thrives in semi-arid conditions, low humidity and warmth, doing well on the coast and even better inland. It is pest-free, the foliage is a dark shiny green (until cold weather, when it may freeze), and it blooms continuously. The bad news is that the color range is limited to white, white with pink, pink or a darker rose. Try using it as a framework with accents of marigolds, zinnias, celosia or ageratum. It also makes a good foreground for the tawny yellows of gloriosa daisies. Fuchsias are at their prime now. When the weather is hot and dry, those in hanging baskets may look wilted, while a check of the soil will show it's not dry. Do not water. Fuchsias like moisture, but too much can kill them. The plants have wilted on a warm day because the roots can't get the available water to the leaves fast enough. Misting will cool and add humidity, but watering will drown the plants by forcing out the air in the soil. Fuchsias put a great deal of energy into their big, black, juicy seed pods; remove them to benefit bloom. Fertilize twice a month with liquid fish at half the amount recommended on the label. Harvesting the vegetable garden should be done daily during warm weather, because it encourages growth and higher yields. If not picked regularly, vegetables such as beans and cucumbers stop producing. If zucchini and other summer squash are allowed to reach huge proportions, they severely drain the plants' energies and result in poor quality vegetables.

While you're on vacation, arrange for a neighbor or friend to harvest and water your garden. In the event of an intense hot spell, you could lose a crop in a hurry if the proper moisture level is not maintained. If the leaves of your citrus tree turn yellow or if the foliage fails to obtain the typical dark-green citrus leaf color, and if you've fertilized adequately, a deficiency of trace elements may be the cause. You can usually cure this condition with an application of a product called Tru-Green Citrus Growers Mix, which contains copper, iron, manganese and zinc, all of which are necessary for healthy citrus growth. Follow label directions carefully.

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