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Caring for Thirsty Fuchsias

September 27, 1987|GEORGE HARMON SCOTT and BILL SIDNAM

Fuchsias are easily over-watered during hot weather, even those in hanging baskets. A gardener will see a wilted plant and assume it is dry, but on a warm, windy day this may not be the case at all. It is simply that the roots can't absorb the water fast enough. Mist the plants; flooding the soil with water will cause the roots to rot.

Fall planting of trees and shrubs (with the exception of tropicals) is a very good idea. The results might not show during the fall season, but in the spring the changes will be quite noticeable. Because the days are getting shorter now, there is not much top growth, but the roots will be growing out into the still-warm soil. Come spring the roots will be able to give the plants a tremendous growth push.

Tuberous begonias, when healthy, will keep blooming well into October. Fertilize and remove old blossoms regularly. If a plant appears tired, hold back on water and fertilizer and let it go dormant for the winter. When the begonias have died back, remove the old stems and store the plants in an somewhat dry place for the winter.

After removing warm-season vegetable plants to prepare space for cool-season vegetables, renew the soil by spading and enriching it. Work in generous portions of compost, peat moss and other organic materials. Also, the addition of a balanced vegetable fertilizer before fall planting will give your cool-season vegetables a good start.

Chervil can be planted from seed this month; it will reach the harvest stage in about two months. Sew seeds in a partially shaded area, and keep the seedbed moist.

Truly fresh Brussels sprouts are seldom available in markets; once they've been in cold storage, they lose their succulent, sweet flavor. Brussels sprouts are easy to grow from nursery seedlings, but they require a long growing season to reach harvest stage. Plants that are set out now will be ready for harvest in the early winter.

Macadamia-nut trees will thrive and produce in any area of Southern California where avocados grow well. The handsome, evergreen trees have superb ornamental value. Fall is a perfect time to plant a macadamia-nut tree. 'Beaumont' and 'Cate' are good varieties. Macademia-nut trees are self-fertile--you don't need two trees for cross-pollination.

Alpine strawberries are much smaller than standard strawberries, and their flavor is closer to that of wild raspberries. The plants are compact, upright and don't produce runners. They will do well in areas that get only partial sun. Now is a good time to plant seeds in flats for transplanting into the garden in November. Most mail-order seed companies stock seeds for Alpine strawberries.

Prevent ant invasions of fruit trees and you will also limit aphid infestations. Apply a sticky barrier around the trunk; various brands are available at local nurseries. Follow label directions carefully because adult and young trees require different treatments.

Spinach, a fast-growing vegetable that reaches the picking stage in about 45 days, can be planted from seeds now. To get the best flavor, there must be no slowdown in growth; special attention must be paid to irrigation and weeding.

Mache has long been a popular salad green in France and other European countries. It is easy to grow in the garden or in a container; early fall is the ideal time to plant it in this area. Purchase seeds by mail from Shepherd's Garden Seeds, 7389 W. Zayante Road, Felton, Calif. 95018.

Divide and replant clumps of chives every two or three years. In addition, the plants should be cut back frequently to promote new leaf production.

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