NOW IS THE TIME

THINGS TO DO

Thin fruit on deciduous trees if you don't want to harvest "bite sized" fruit. As new leaves emerge, this is also a good time to foliar spray for a quick boost of energy. Spray "Florel" on olive trees if you don't want fruit. Julie Frink reports she gets great olives on her 'Colossal' olive tree.

Many have asked about E Z Green Chicken Compost. Your only alternative to paying $6 a bag is to order a ton (40 bags) @ $3 and then find some friends who will buy what you can't use. Call Lyle Pohl at 760 729-1788 to order.

BLACKBERRIES

Last year a large percentage of my 'Tropical' blackberry crop was hard, red and inedible due to Red Berry mite. Because these mites are so deeply imbedded in the new buds, my back-pack sprayer has been ineffective. I needed a high pressure sprayer. So this year I put a short, narrow nozzle on the end of the hose. That increased the pressure. For the spray, I poured hot water over a pound of Neem meal in a sieve lined with "Remay". I let this remain overnight in the bucket and then added more water - to about 2 gallons. I attached a brass "Syhonex" fitting to the faucet; dropped the attached rubber tube into the pail and then attached the hose to the "Syphonex". I'm hoping by spraying both the plant and the soil there may also be some systemic uptake.

GREEN SCENE

Have been busy preparing for Green Scene - some for this year and some for 2004. Have lots of 'Pepino dulce'. We love them in a salad or sandwich. Plant them in the ground, pot or trellis them. They grow about as big as a tomato plant. The 'Toma' variety probably has the choicest melon-like flavor. However, in my hot garden they succumbed to spider mites. Isabel Barkman, who lives closer to the coast, has no problem.

The 'Temptation' cultivar is not quite so vulnerable. Kittie Rau keeps her pepinos cool and spider mite free by turning on a sprinkler on hot afternoons.

HUMIC ACID

Several years ago I purchased a gallon of humic acid and was happy with the results. But then the label fell off and I sort of forgot about it because I couldn't recall the ratio to use with water. I recently did an internet search and got excited about it again. (This is also what Dr. Partida was so exhilarant about when we toured at Cal Poly, Pomona a while back.)

Humic acid is really organic material composted so long ago it has become shale. It also goes by the name of leonardite, which is a low-grade of mined lignite coal. So it is very concentrated. If your soil is short on organic matter, humic acid can be the activator for ideal growing conditions.

Used as a foliar spray it protects the plant from virus and most fungal disease. The uptake of toxic elements found in some soils is also
reduced. Even though you don't have the actual bulk of organic material it still increases the water holding capacity. It also speeds up
decomposition in compost piles. Best yet, it only takes one tablespoon to a gallon of water to do its magic.