Now is the Time....by Eunice Messner
MULCH It is the time of the year when we all seek shade, so it is easy to understand why your trees, too, would appreciate a cooling mulch around their roots. It would also keep the beneficial mycorrhizae flourishing. Plants in black plastic containers should also be protected so the sun doesn't cook their roots. Perhaps a board propped in front of the containers would help.
AUGUST CHORES Foliar feeding time for mangos is now if they are showing flushes of brightly covered growth. It is also a good time to do a second pruning of your cherimoya trees. And, if you like winter tomatoes, start a few this month from seed. You might even be lucky to winter over your 'Celebrity', 'Champion' or cherry tomatoes.
NO SIFTING! I'm having wonderful success with the 2'x2'x4' worm box I got from Marie and Bob Bouse and have worked out a system that doesn't require sifting the worms. I use finished compost for bedding and a layer of shredded paper on the bottom. On occasion I work in coffee grounds. Kitchen scraps are periodically buried in little piles and a sheet of plastic is laid on top to partially cover the bed . In two or three months, when it looks like it has all been converted to castings, I stop feeding for two weeks. I then take the top off the box, and remove the plastic. In one or two hour intervals, as the worms escape to a lower level, I scrape off a layer of castings until I reach a mass that is mostly worms. I then move that mass over to fill ½ the box and prepare new bedding in the empty half. Kitchen scraps are again added, but only to the new bedding. In another two or three weeks all of the worms have migrated to the half where the food is and I then remove the finished castings - with no sifting needed! Then start the process all over again.
THE SECRET GARDEN Hidden back of Don and Juti Winterstein's average sized back yard in north Brea is an opening draped with kiwi vines. Bend down and step into a grower's paradise - 30' x 300+' of vegetables and fruit trees all growing to perfection. For a very modest sum they leased this easement from a homeowners association. Many of the vegetables are oriental (Juti is Chinese). I was also surprised to see a fruiting 'Pluot' tree and black raspberries for the first time. Don is a fairly new member and he certainly has let no grass grow under his feet. Hopefully, next year our chapter will be invited to tour this fabulous garden.
PAPAYAS I'll be bringing some Red Thai seedling papaya plants, for sale, to the meeting. I especially like the flavor of these and also their very big size. They will have two or three plants in a pot to give you better odds of getting male & female.