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GARDEN JOBS

For the Holidays

September 28, 1986|GEORGE HARMON SCOTT and BILL SIDNAM

Plant sweet peas now. The risks from hot weather are great, but the rewards are worth it--bowls of sweet peas for the holidays. If the plants should be hit by the heat, the soil is already prepared and can easily be replanted next month or in November. When possible, plant sweet peas in a north-south row so that you'll have bloom on both sides.

Prepare for the Santa Ana winds, which can be very destructive. Stake top-heavy plants such as broccoli and Brussels sprouts to prevent uprooting. Santa Ana winds blow in on us from the northeast; any windbreak you can erect will reduce damage. During windy periods, use a hose to sprinkle your plants twice a day. After the winds subside, plants may look defeated, but chances are that most will recover.

Compost pits and piles can be emptied now to good advantage; soon, leaves will be falling again. It's much better to return organic matter to the soil than to put it out by the curb to be carted away. Some organic gardeners who grow superior vegetables have discontinued the use of chemical fertilizers and rely entirely on compost.

Time-release fertilizers are ideal for vegetables grown in containers, supplying the basic nutrients for three to 10 months, depending on the potency. In addition, a light application of a liquid fertilizer, such as Miracle-Gro, every three weeks will feed plants directly through the leaves and give them the various micronutrients that are lacking in time-release fertilizers.

Two of the most popular onions among gourmets are the Maui from Hawaii and the Vidalia from Georgia. Renowned for their mildness and sweetness, they are sometimes available in local produce markets--at outrageous prices. But these onions can be grown with great success in Southland gardens. Both Maui- and Vidalia-type onions are grown from 'Granex Hybrid 33' seeds. Although seeds should be planted next month, now is the time to order. Write Hastings Seeds, P.O. Box 4274, Atlanta, Ga. 30302, for a free catalogue.

Collards have long held a place of importance in the Deep South, where collard greens are a frequent companion of pork, ham and corn bread. They deserve popularity elsewhere; a four-ounce serving provides 74% of the adult minimum daily requirement of Vitamin C, 89% of the Vitamin A requirement and 12% of the recommended daily adult intake of calcium--all with only 29 calories. Late summer through early fall is the best time to plant collards in Southland gardens. 'Georgia' and 'Vates' are the most reliable varieties. Seeds for both should be available in local nurseries.

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