Gardening With Tony
SHERMAN OAKS—Just like the moon is always either waxing or waning, but is really only full or new for the brief moments in between, the seasons are always flowing from one to the next. Even though it is not yet half way through summer, plants in the garden are already planning for autumn. There has been plenty of of warm weather for most plants to do what they need to do by this time of year.
If weeds were not pulled when they should have been in early spring, they really should be pulled now. They have already started to sow their seed for the next generation that will grow at the end of next winter. The ground has dried and hardened since early spring, so pulling weeds will take a bit more effort. That is the punishment for procrastinating.
Weeds that are still somewhat fresh and green may not have dispersed all of their seed yet. If pulled soon enough, their next generation may not be so prolific. Those that have dried have likely dispersed their seed already. Their progeny will be back by next spring.
Pulling out the roots of annual grasses is not as important as getting the roots of perennials like thistles. Heck, they are annuals, so will die at the end of the season anyway. Getting their seed in the priority now. Some people are satisfied with simply pulling the seeded tops off of annual weeds, and leaving the lower portions to die out naturally.
Most fruit trees finish their production sometime during summer. Small fruit like cherries finished some time ago. Larger peaches, although related to cherries, may still be ripening into August. They should be picked as they ripen, not only to get the most use out of them, but also to avoid sharing with unwelcome rodents, birds and other annoying wildlife. The ground under fruit trees should be cleaned of any fallen fruit that might otherwise rot and perpetuate disease. Apples and pears ripen later and into autumn.
Warm season vegetables should be picked as they mature to promote continued production. Leaving extra zucchini on the plants inhibits production of new zucchini, while the old zucchini grow into tough and insipid baseball bats. Leaving extra tomatoes both inhibits new tomatoes and also makes a mess of rotting fruit.
Tree of the Week: Date Palm
It seems that recycled large date palms, Phoenix dactylifera, like those standing in queue in the median of Rodeo Drive in downtown Beverly Hills, became trendy in the past few decades while vast date orchards around Las Vegas were displaced by urban sprawl. They are stately trees with airy but bold rounded canopies between twenty and thirty feet wide. Mature trees are more than fifty feet tall on single trunks. Varieties with multiple trunks are shorter and rare. The ten to twenty foot long leaves are pinnately compound with folded foot long leaflets, and nasty basal spines.
Each date palm tree is either male or female (dioecious). Orchards are almost exclusive to fruiting female trees with only a few male trees grown separately for their pollen, which gets applied manually. Without male pollinators, recycled formerly productive female trees are fruitless, and therefore not messy.
Date palms may have been in cultivation for nine thousand years! The Judean date palm was grown from seed that was lost in storage for two thousand years, which (until recently) was the oldest known viable seed!
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