May Gray, Go Away...
May can be a tricky month in the garden here in Temecula. Fog rolls over the hills from the south and west and takes several hours to burn off in the morning. This year, May has been a rollercoaster with cold nights and variable days ranging anywhere from the mid-60s to the mid-80s. Short bursts of heat early in the month caused the last of the winter greens in my garden to bolt, along with the cilantro that I had planted on both the cool and warm sides of my garden. In mid-May, I decided to set out zucchini starts from Armstrong Nursery and I've been really pleased with how well they've grown, especially given the tight spacing I gave them. I usually have a lot of problems with zucchini and powdery mildew but this year I've focused on watering the ground directly, avoiding the leaves as much as possible, and I've definitely noticed a difference.
Here's what else I've been doing this month
- Start an entirely new batch of compost, using the last of it for my potted plants especially.
- Deadheading borage, collecting seeds, and composting spent plants.
- Mulching raised beds to prevent massive moisture loss once the heat comes.
- Deadheading and composting American Legion poppies.
- Staking, trimming, and propagating tomato plants for trade.
- Harvesting blueberries.
- Starting new seeds in grow bags (Red Roselle, Ali Baba Watermelon, Yatsufusa Hot Pepper, and Corbaci Pepper, which was a fantastic producer for us in 2017).
- Collect California Poppy seeds to be thrown out in the fall.
- Thin Pink Lady Apple, Arctic Star White Nectarine, and Algerian Mandarin trees. Cover fruit as needed.
Letting borage proliferate throughout the raised bed garden seems to have kept the tomato hornworms, my biggest garden nemesis, at bay. A large portion of my kitchen gardens is given over to nightshades so an infestation of hornworms can be really tedious to get rid of organically. Watering at ground level with a hose has commanded more attention on my part, but I've seen the positives throughout the garden. Trimming the bottom leaves of my tomatoes have made a dramatic difference to increase the airflow within the plant and to minimize any mildew and disease.