July Garden Tips
Check your irrigation systems during this hot weather . . .
As you know, the upcoming months will continue to bring waves of heat that can further stress your plants. Adequate water through the summer will help them thrive during these long, hot days.
Check your irrigation systems now for leaks or broken or malfunctioning parts. Check also for adequate coverage. You may need to add emitters on drip systems for maturing trees and shrubs. You will also need to adjust the length of time the system runs. To gauge whether your plants are getting adequate water, check the depth of moisture in the soil the day following watering. Soil around trees and shrubs should show moisture to 12 inches and do not need water again until the top 2 to 3 inches of soil is dry. If you are not sure about moisture depth, we recommend that you get and use a Rapidtest moisture meter. When you use your Moisture Meter, be sure to keep the tip of the probe clean and push it into the center of the root ball as well as into the area between the trunk and drip line. Three or four inches of mulch helps prevent water loss by evaporation.
As trees and shrubs grow, add extra emitters and move them away from the trunk (9 times the diameter of the trunk in inches). One emitter may have been enough when the tree or shrub was planted but not when it is four or more years old.
For those of you living in the Redwood City area, call 780-7436 to schedule a free "Smart Home" Water use house call.
Remember that lawns, trees and shrubs cannot coexist on the same water schedule!
You may want to check out our Care Guide on Irrigating Plants for more information. Below is a summary for irrigating lawns; shrubs and roses; trees; and vegetables.
Watering for New Plants:
Once planting is completed, water plants in well. Check plants daily for water during the first week and if necessary, place hose on trickle near the base of the plant and leave on for up to 30 minutes. You may need to run drip or spray systems every 3 to 4 days for the first 2 weeks if you find that the top 2 to 3 inches of soil dries out quickly. Be sure to check that water is moistening the root ball and not just the surrounding soil (Mr. Ed has found this to be the number two reason for new plants dying.) You can then adjust according to the following recommendations.
Watering for Lawns:
Ideally, lawns should be watered 1 to 2 times a week for one-half to one hour to encourage deep root systems.
Watering for Shrubs and Roses:
For most drip or spray systems, once a week for one hour should be adequate, if that puts 5 to 10 gallons of water on each bush. Remember to avoid direct water on rose foliage unless you water early in the morning. In fact, washing roses with a fine water spray in the morning inhibits spider mites and powdery mildew.
Watering for Trees:
Water established trees once a month July through September for a few hours with bubblers at the drip line to ensure a deep soaking. You can also build a basin at least 4 to 6 inches deep at the drip line and flood monthly. Remember to check the depth of moisture in the soil the day following watering. Moisture should be apparent to 12 inches. Trees will not need water again until the top 2 to 3 inches of soil is dry.
Watering for Vegetables:
Soaker hoses work great for vegetable gardens. Run them once or twice per week for 3 to 4 hours. Turn pressure on very low until you count one drip every three seconds along the entire line.
More tips for great gardens . . . .
- If planted now, summer annuals will give you 4 more months of color. Plant marigolds, vinca rosea, alyssum, petunias, lobelia, cleome, salpiglossis, fibrous begonias, zinnias, bedding dahlias, cosmos, and ageratum in full sun. For the shade, try impatiens, New Guinea impatiens, fibrous begonias, and coleus. Some full sun annuals will also perform decently with a few hours of sun, such as alyssum and lobelia.
- Tuberous begonias are here! Come check out our selection of upright and trailing types, including some unusual perennial varieties.
- Don’t forget to apply Sluggo or Master Nursery Pest-Fighter for Slugs and Snails after planting annuals.
- Deadhead annuals regularly to keep them blooming and fertilize every six weeks with Master Nursery Rose and Flower Food.
- Wait to cut or tie the foliage of your spring bloomers until half of the leaves begin to turn yellow or brown. The longer the leaves remain, the bigger the bulbs will become.
- If you missed planting dahlias, crocosmia, calla lilies, or cannas by bulb, you can plant now from 1- or 2-gallon containers. We have assorted dahlias, from dinner plate to tree varieties, as well as several unique selections of cannas. Check out the “Lucifer” series, featuring bicolor flowers. Check out crocosmia as well, an often overlooked but colorful summer bloomer, great for naturalizing and for cutting.
- Continue planting gladiolus bulbs at 2-week intervals through July for continuous bloom. Plant bulbs about 4 times the depth of the bulb. If you plant the bulbs 4 to 6 inches apart, the plants will support one another.
- To help prevent thrips on gladioli, soak bulbs 2-3 hours in a weak Lysol solution (2 Tablespoons of Lysol to 1 gallon of water). You can also use Monterey Garden Spray (Spinosad) when gladiolus leaves are about 1 foot or more. Spray every two weeks to control thrips.
- When planting tuberous begonias, remember to leave about one-quarter inch of the top of the bulb exposed.
- Apply Master Nursery Bulb Food when bulbs break ground and again when they finish blooming. We are recommending bulb food rather than bone meal because bone meal now has all the nutrients except calcium and phosphorus boiled out.
- Leave Narcissus bulbs in the ground. They will come up and bloom year after year. Tulips, crocus and Hyacinths must be dug, cleaned and put in the crisper if they are to bloom next year.
- First Pick is here! Are you looking for a hard-to-find or heirloom variety of fruit or nut tree? Wegman's in association with premiere grower Dave Wilson Nursery is offering special order bare root stock until November 5. Click on the link to go to our special section and view the hundreds of varieties available now!
- Thin fruit on apples, peaches, nectarines, and apricots to protect fruiting wood from breaking from weight, to prevent alternate bearing, to discourage fungal problems associated with high humidity created by fruits that touch, and to encourage the development of large, quality fruits. If branches are still heavy laden, prop them with our new gadget; PROP-A-CROP, which is adjustable! While most folks prune their fruit trees once a year during the dormant season, a light pruning using heading cuts during the summer can benefit the home orchardist in two ways. First, summer pruning helps to maintain a moderate size of your trees. By reducing canopy mass at this time, trees grow at a slower rate. Second, you can encourage secondary branching on long whips. This increases fruiting wood. In contrast, winter pruning tends to remove dead, dying and diseased wood; shape trees; and enhance light and air penetration to fruiting wood.
- Apples: Leave the single largest fruit per cluster per spur; one fruit every 6 to 8 inches.
- Pears: Are usually not thinned except Asian pears. Remember, Asian pears stay on the tree until fully ripe. Other pears are allowed to ripen in the garage or other protected area.
- Apricots and Plums: Thin when fruit is about the size of marbles and leave 2 inches between fruits. (OK, so it's too late for that this year, but Mr. Ed says to thin them anyway.)
- Peaches and Nectarines: Same as for plums and apricots.
- The best way to keep squirrels and rats out of your fruit trees is with the Ross netting completely covering the tree and tied tightly at the trunk.
- If you haven't sprayed apples a second time for coddling moth, do so immediately!
- Scab of apple and pear appears as black or brown spots on the leaves and black or brown depressions on fruit. A fungus, scab generally begins to show in April and May. If scab is present on apples this season, spray apple trees at about mid-February at 2-week intervals beginning at the “green-tip” stage (when leaf buds begin to break) and until flowers open. Use lime-sulfur or Funginex (Triforine). If scab is present on pears this season, spray next dormant season at the green tip stage and again at early bloom. Mr. Ed has seen more apple and pear scab than usual this year. Rain does not cause scab but spreads it from leaf to leaf.
- Fireblight has been a more serious than usual problem this year. Fireblight affects pears, photinea, pyracantha, apples and less seriously, loquats. It is caused by bacteria. Fireblight appears on the tips of new growth or at flower cluster. The plant part will be blackened as if scorched by fire or a blowtorch. The new growth tips then curl downward as on a shepherd's crook. To control, cut 9 to 12 inches below affected tissue, sterilizing pruning tools between each cut with rubbing alcohol or a (9 to 1) bleach solution. Apply appropriate sprays during bloom next spring.
- Mr. Ed found pear psylla for the first time during a house call. Adults are about one-sixteenth of an inch long, light brown and have wings folded, tent-like over their back. They leave a sticky 'honeydew' on infected leaves. Horticultural oil seems to be the only treatment.
- Blossom blight is also more prevalent this year. The blossoms of apple, pear and their relatives are affected by turning brown and sticking to the fruit spurs. There are no scorched tips. Spray as appropriate next spring.
- To control powdery mildew on grapes, spray every two weeks with sulfur. Avoid overhead water and be judicious with fertilizer so that excess foliage isn’t generated. Do not spray with oil for 30 days of any sulfur spray.
- If fruit trees seem chlorotic (yellow leaves with green veins), foliar feed with Liquid Gold at two week intervals until symptoms disappear and be sure to fertilize with a high nitrogen fertilizer next Labor Day. (You should have also fertilized on Memorial Day.)
- Many folks are reporting peach leaf curl on their peach trees despite the three necessary dormant sprays in November, December and January. Research at UC Davis states that there is no control once symptoms appear. As the infected leaves fall, they should be collected and disposed of -- not composted.
- Fertilize deciduous fruit trees and vines around Memorial Day and Labor Day with Master Nursery Fruit Tree & Vine Food or Dr. Earth Citrus & Fruit Tree Fertilizer. Don't be tempted to over fertilize, as this can cause secondary problems with some fruits. If fruit trees are constantly chlorotic, sprinkle Iron Sulfate at the drip line on Valentine's Day and 4th of July.
- Watch for aphids on plums and cherries, which disfigure leaves by causing them to curl. Spray with Master Nursery Nature’s Pest-Fighter or Malathion or let the Soldier Beetles clean them out.
- Brown rot and bacterial canker of apricots, peaches, nectarines, and plums manifests as dieback of and/or oozing from short fruiting spurs or branch tips and a decrease in or absence of fruit production. While it is too late to spray for this disease this year, next year apply two additional Daconil sprays at pink bud and full bloom. When pruning this summer or next winter, you should remove dead or oozing wood. The ooze is amber-colored and may occur any place along the branches or trunks. Some gardeners will mistakenly refer to the oozing as 'borer injury'. Borer injury will include wood frass which looks like sawdust. In severe cases, there may not be much tree left and you would be just as well to remove the trees.
- Spray apple, pear and pyracantha trees for woolly apple aphids, which appear as a white cottony substance, usually in crevices, pruning cuts and at the base of the tree on roots. Use malathion or Sevin.
- Paint deciduous fruit tree trunks to prevent sunscald with a white, water-based interior latex paint cut 50% with water. This is especially important for trees planted in blazing hot locations and those with thin bark (e.g. citrus).
- Select and plant citrus now.
- Citrus can be pruned now if desired or needed. Check for snail damage and for scale, a sucking insect that usually clusters along fruit stems, new growth and the undersides of leaves. If scale is found, spray tree with a mixture of horticultural oil and Malathion. Repeat one week later. Don’t use horticultural oil more than 4 times during the growing season. Never apply horticultural oil and sulfur sprays within 4 weeks of each other.
- Fertilize citrus in February, April, June and August with Master Nursery Citrus Food.
- If your caneberries have finished producing, prune off the current year's growth (the parts which had berries this year) and start training the new growth onto its support.
- Be sure to water new plantings in full sun deeply every 3 to 4 days. Erigeron, Convolvulus, Creeping Rosemary, Ceanothus and Manzanita are excellent groundcovers for hot, dry locations (though they do need water while becoming established). Blue Star Creeper, Woolly Thyme and Creeping Chamomile fill in nicely between stepping stones in full to part sun and are able to withstand some foot traffic. For the shade, try Campanula, Sweet Woodruff, Vinca Minor or Baby Tears.
- Fertilize groundcovers with Formula 49 three times a year, in February, May and September.
- To ward off slugs and snails, bait with Sluggo (safe for pets and people) or Master Nursery Pest-Fighter for Slugs and Snails, available in powder and pellet form.
- Set mowers to 2.5 to 3 inches for fescue and bluegrass lawns and 1to 1.5 inches for Bermuda grass lawns. Consider leaving lawn clippings on the lawn. As clippings break down, they provide the lawn with nutrients, reducing the need for fertilizers by 30-50%. Clippings will not cause thatch.
- Lawn seeded in July may need moisture up to 3 times a day so that germinating seeds do not dry out. Watch for slow or uneven germination. You may need to reseed.
- You may consider laying sod instead of seeding. Again, you will need to run irrigation systems 2-3 times a week during hot weather to prevent the roots from drying. For details on preparing an area for lawn installation, check our Care Guide on Lawn Preparation. Sod orders placed with Wegman's usually take 2-3 day for delivery. Call us for details. Apply Advanced Lawn Grub Control or Beneficial Nematodes in May and July to control cutworms and lawn moths.
- Apply Bayer Advanced Lawn Season-Long Grub Control or Beneficial Nematodes now to control cutworms In fall, when raccoons and skunks are tearing up the neighborhood in search of ground-dwelling grubs and cutworms. Your lawn will show minimal or no damage. Beneficial nematodes are microscopic organisms which consume various destructive soil-dwelling insects, such as cutworms. They do not harm earthworms and are safe around pets and people.
- Feed lawns with Master Green Lawn Food or Master Green Weed & Feed. For an organic product use Dr. Earth Lawn Fertilizer.
- If you have had problems with Bermuda grass in your lawn, apply Turflon Ester, which also controls annual and perennial broadleaf weeds in established lawns. For crabgrass, nutsedge and a host of other tenacious broadleaf weeds, use Trimec Plus.
- For oxalis (the plant that looks like clover) and broadleaf weeds, use Weed Beater Ultra, a liquid that can be sprayed over entire lawns. Because oxalis is so tenacious, several applications will be needed. If oxalis has produced seed pods, apply a pre-emergent weed-killer now and in October. We like Concern brand which is non-toxic, made from corn gluten.
- Be sure to deadhead as blooms fade to ensure continuous bloom throughout summer.
- Many of the ornamental grasses are beginning to flower. Check out Blue Oat Grass, Mexican Feather Grass and both the red and green forms of Fountain Grass. Grasses lend an architecture and texture to the landscape unmatched by other plants. They are also drought-tolerant and deer-resistant.
- Check out Day lilies, Liatrus, Shasta daisy, Agastache, Bee Balm, Baby’s Breath, yarrow, penstemon, verbena, and coreopsis for the sun, and Corydalis, Sinningia, Jacob’s Ladder, Chinese foxglove, Campanula, Heuchera, Bacopa, and heliotrope for the shade.
- A nice handful of sun-loving perennials double as both deer-resistant and drought-tolerant plants: lavender, yarrow, the salvias, Echinacea, sea lavender, society garlic, penstemon, and Brachycombe all provide excellent summer color in addition to these practical attributes.
- Spittlebugs generally make their homes on perennials and shrubs this time of year, looking literally like a wad of spit nestled in the leaves. Spray off with a strong stream of water or with Master Nursery Nature's Pest Fighter. These are the larva of leafhoppers, a sucking insect which can spread diseases.
- Fertilize perennials in February, May and September with Master Nursery Rose and Flower Food, Formula 49 or Dr. Earth Rose & Flower Fertilizer. You can skip fertilizing in May if your garden consists of perennials that thrive on neglect. Many of the drought tolerant perennials (see above), for example, prefer not to be pampered with high nitrogen, high phosphorus fertilizers. Use very low phosphorus fertilizers on your Australian plants.
- To control Bermuda grass and crabgrass and other weedy grasses in ornamental beds, try Grass-
- Getter or Weed Stopper.
- Bait perennials with Sluggo or Master Nursery Pest-Fighter for Slugs & Snails.
- Now is the time to divide your bearded (German) Iris. Fertilize them with Master Nursery Bulb Food if you haven't already done so.
- A new series of Hydrangeas is now available--Endless Summer. Most Hydrangeas bloom only on last year's stems, however Endless Summer blooms on last year's and this year's stems. Endless Summer flowers can be made blue or pink by adjusting the soil pH where other Hydrangeas can only have their colors intensified. Endless Summer Blushing Bride is white only.
- If geraniums, petunias, nicotianna and penstemon look healthy but have no flowers, they may be infected with budworms. Look for tiny holes in the flower buds and small black specks (droppings) on the leaves. Spray once a week with Monterey Garden Insect Spray or Bt until the problem is under control.
- Be sure to stay on top of deadheading for continual bloom!
- Aphids can be controlled by blasting off with water or by spraying with Safer Yard & Garden Insect Killer. You can also use Malathion or Sevin. If you use horticultural oil, do not apply more than 4 times during the growing season. Wait at least 2 weeks between applications. Note that oil may damage leaves during hot spells.
- Watch for katydids and cucumber beetles, both of which chew on flower buds, leaving holes in flower petals. Treat as for aphids (see above, except do not water blast) or spray with Monterey Garden Spray.
- Rose weevils and curculios chew holes at the bases of flower buds then lay their eggs within. When larvae hatch, they eat their way through flower buds and petals. The only control for these pests is to disbud plants as if deadheading.
- Rose slugs, the larva of a wasp, eat halfway or all the way through rose leaves. In severe cases, the leaf appears almost shredded. Control as for aphid except water blasting or spray with Spinosad.
- You may also notice activity by leaf cutter bees, which remove neat, semi-circular notches from the margins of leaves. Disregard this insect: These notches are harmless and the leaf cutter bee is extremely beneficial in the garden.
- Powdery Mildew appears as whitish splotches on the surface of leaves and on buds and stems. To control, use Safer Garden Fungicide or wettable sulfur. If these measures aren't satisfactory, use Rose Pride (formerly Funginex) or Daconil.
- Rust appears as small yellow to black spots on the upper surface of leaves, which, when flipped, show rust-colored pustules. Use Funginex to control.
- Prevent weeds in rose beds by applying Concern Weed Prevention Plus. This product contains corn gluten, which prevents seeds from germinating and contains 9% nitrogen, providing slow-release fertilization. Never use Round-Up within 100 feet of roses--it's the surest way to deform new foliage and developing buds. You should hand-dig or use a tool such as a Hula-hoe to remove unwanted weeds.
- Rub off leaf buds that are facing the center of the plant. This will redirect growth to outward buds and help keep the center of the rose open for air circulation. Watch also for sucker sprouts below the graft union and remove them where they attach to roots or trunk. Do not cut them off at ground level.
- After blooming, prune climbers such as Cecile Brunner, Belle of Portugal and Lady Banks roses--which bloom only once a season.
- Continue monthly feeding with Master Nursery Rose & Flower Food. For an organic alternative, apply Dr. Earth Rose & Flower Fertilizer, which contains alfalfa meal every other month. Alfalfa meal contains the chemical triacontanol, which spurs the formation of new canes. If you do not use an organic fertilizer, supplement your regime with alfalfa meal every March and July.
- May and June mark the cut-off months for using systemic insecticides. By discontinuing use, you reduce the risk of disfiguring flowers and foliage.
- Rose diseases have been more severe this year because of our abundant rainfall. If you still have problems, use the products listed above. Funginex also controls blackspot but when the rain stops and you avoid overhead watering, it will not spread. Badly infected leaves will fall off or can be picked off. Do not compost these leaves.
SHRUBS & VINES
- Time to deadhead azaleas and rhododendrons. Flowers and/or sepals should be dry enough to snap off by hand. If you have been troubled by petal blight, throw debris away in trash, do not compost. This is also the time to prune and shape these plants. You can cut azaleas down into woody stems and have them bloom next year.
- Fuchsia gall mites create gnarled leaves with reddish blisters and are common on hybrid fuchsias. U.C. Davis recommends that if symptoms appear, prune out disfigured growth and spray with Sevin once a month. You can also begin a preventative program using Sevin once a month beginning in March. A recent garden column recommended spraying with horticultural oil for gall mites. Be advised...it does not work. Consider species fuchsias, which are mite-resistant. While not as showy as the hybrids, they offer the same bloom time and a surprising diversity of foliar textures.
- Three of the fastest growing shrubs for hedges and screens are Black-twig Pittosporum, Red-tip Photinia and Purple Hopseed bush. Left unpruned, each will reach approximately 20 feet tall and wide but each can be maintained at6 to 8 feet if desired. Remember to prune newly planted hedges seasonally, even if lightly. This will encourage plants to be bushy and dense.
- Passion vines erupt into color as the season heats up, offering unusual flowers in an array of bright, tropical colors. Bower vine and scarlet trumpet vine continue to bloom through mid-summer and make excellent companions to potato vine, which blooms all summer.
- If your gardenias show brown buds which drop off before opening, the cause is probably thrips. Use Monterey Garden Insect Spray every 3-4 weeks.
- Azalea gall appears as swollen leaves with white powder on them. Remove by pruning. Next spring, as new leaves begin to emerge, spray with copper.
- Watch for thrips and black vine weevil on rhododendrons. Thrips damage appears as a mottling or bleaching of the upper surfaces of leaves. Undersides show small, glossy black dots. Weevils leave distinctive notches along leaf margins as they feed. Both can be controlled with Monterey Garden Insect Spray or Malathion or Sevin.
- Camellia golden ring spot virus manifests itself as yellow rings or circular splotches on 2-year old or older leaves. It may also cause streaking in flowers. There is currently no cure for this virus, but it may be spread by pruning tools. Be sure to clean tools with alcohol or a 10% bleach solution between pruning shrubs.
- If your azaleas and camellias have been troubled by petal blight, which appears as brown splotching on petal margins of open flowers, partly open flowers and flower buds, keep beds free of debris. Remove infected flowers and buds and try not to let infected petals hit the ground. If they do, gather and place in trash immediately, do not compost!
- Camellias, Rhododendrons and Azaleas should be fertilized when they finish blooming and one month later and one more month after that (three times total).
- Summer blooming trees include Crape Myrtle, Smoke tree, Chaste tree, Jacaranda and Mimosa tree. Crape Myrtles, Smoke trees and Chaste trees are by nature multi-trunked, but many growers train them as standards, i.e. on a single trunk. Remember that the multi-trunked forms will not reach the same size as single trunk trees. Jacaranda is noted for its feathery semi-evergreen foliage and large plumes of purple flowers. Mimosa has similar foliage, but is deciduous and sports a pink pom-pom flower.
- If you’re thinking of planting Crape Myrtle, consider planting only those with the Native American tribal names, such as Tuscarora, Hopi and Natchez. These varieties were hybridized specifically to resist powdery mildew. Otherwise, treat mildew twice with sulfur a week apart.
- To prevent fruit flies on olives, liquidambar and ornamental plums, apply Florel Fruit Eliminator one time anytime during bloom. Olives may become infested with the larvae of the Olive Fruit Fly. Monterey Garden Insect Spray contains Spinosad which is specific for the olive fruit fly and does not make the fruit inedible.
- For established trees that are isolated in the landscape or for those trees which seem chlorotic, use the Ross Root Feeder to fertilize with a high nitrogen fertilizer (25-10-10). Water them once a month with the Ross Root Feeder at the drip line if there is no irrigation system.
- Don't panic about Sudden Oak Death. It has been fatal only to Tanbark Oak, Coast Live Oak, Black Oak and Canyon Live Oak when they are near forested areas. There are more than 110 different plants discovered to be carriers of the disease but which show only minor symptoms. These range from Redwoods, Maples, Manzanita, Bay Laurel, Rhododendron and Roses to Loropetalum and Oleander. If you have a California Bay Laurel growing within 40 feet of one of the oaks listed above; remove the Bay Laurel.
- You can still plant tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, basil, green beans, and cucumbers from starts. Squash, corn and melons are chancy. Remember to amend soil liberally, as vegetable crops deplete nutrients from soils rather quickly. We like Gold Rush, which includes chicken manure, giving plants a slow nitrogen boost. If you plant veggies in the same area each year, add Master Nursery Tomato and Vegetable Food or Dr. Earth Tomato Vegetable and Herb Fertilizer at the time of planting and one month later.
- If you have had problems with verticillium wilt on tomatoes and potatoes, consider covering beds with clear, 2 mil plastic for 6-8 weeks during the months of June to September. This process, known as solarization, sterilizes the soil by cooking harmful microbes in the soil. Be sure to anchor plastic with dirt or heavy objects. While these beds will be unusable for a season, the sacrifice will pay off in healthy plants the following year.
- For whiteflies on tomatoes, use Safer Tomato & Vegetable Spray every 3 days for 12 days. Consider using whitefly traps in conjunction with the sprays for more effective control. Also walk through the area with a hand-held vacuum cleaner and bump the plants to make the whiteflies fly around and then vacuum them up in flight.
- Tomatoes make great container plants. Use at least a 15-gallon container for most types and try Sweet 100s in a 16 inch hanging basket.
- Plant artichokes through July from 4 inch pots or 1-gallon pots.
- Cool season greens, such as lettuce, spinach, cilantro, chard, and mustard can be planted through the summer in morning sun locations. During the longer daylight hours, they will go to seed more quickly, so plan on planting more frequently.
OTHER THINGS TO DO
- Spread 2 to 4 inches of mulch over garden beds. Mulch materials can include fir bark, Forest Blend, pine needles, Gold Rush or leaves, to name a few. In general, mulches are any organic material spread over the surface of the soil that serves to retain moisture, discourage weeds and contribute to the soil not becoming too hot. Mr. Ed has discouraged using "Gorilla Hair" (shredded redwood bark).
- Consider utilizing beneficial insects in lieu of insecticides this summer. Ladybugs and their larva feast on aphids and are especially useful in rose gardens and vegetable gardens. Release 50-100 at a time, in the evening, 5 to 7 days apart. Store the remaining ladybugs in the vegetable crisper (Be careful not to use them on salads!). Set out shallow dishes of water along with plant parts covered with aphids. These props will encourage ladybugs to stick around. Praying mantids are sold in their egg cases. Set out egg cases in a shady location off the ground, such as in a tree or shrub. Eggs will hatch mid- to late summer.
- Beneficial nematodes are useful for lawns and shade gardens which include rhododendrons and around citrus. Apply April/May or again in July. As all of these are living creatures, remember not to apply insecticides in their midst, as they will be killed.
- Try Plumerias for a touch of the tropics. Grow them in one or five gallon cans of Master Nursery Gardener's Gold potting soil. Give them full sun and water only when the soil dries out. Fertilize with Bud and Bloom every second watering. Keep the roots warm in summer and dry in winter (no watering in winter).
- Are you remembering to keep water available to encourage birds to visit your garden where they will eat their weight in bugs each week?
- Container plants must be fertilized with an appropriate granular fertilizer monthly. If you are a fan of liquid fertilizers, that works almost as well.
- Consider watering indoor plants with a solution of 2 Tablespoons vinegar to1 gallon water once a month in order to reduce salt build-up and reduce the pH of Hetch Hetchy water (pH 8-10).
- Remember! You cannot mix up a batch of spray with water and then save the unused portion because it starts to decompose within two hours. Dump it into a flower bed or on the lawn and rinse out the spray tank. This is one reason Mr. Ed likes to use the Gilmore Hose End Sprayer when possible because there is never any leftover mixed spray.
- There are more than 4,000 different native species of bees in North America, all of which are good pollinators. Encourage them by planting sedums, crocosmia, coreopsis, goldenrod, yarrow, penstemon, fennel, linden, rudbeckia, dogwood, lavender, rosemary and legumes.
- Many gardeners have started using coffee grounds from Starbucks or Peet's as a soil amendment. This is okay but no more than twice a year because most plants are susceptible to caffeine poisoning.
- Sharp pruning tools make clean cuts that heal quickly. Check out our Pruning Tool Renovation service, which includes cleaning and sharpening and replacing missing parts. If you’re unsure whether we can service your tools, bring them in for assessment.
- Recently a garden column suggested that Scrub Jays were beneficial because they ate snails. Sorry, but all the symptoms described were those of roof rats feasting on the snails. Snails are a favorite food of roof rats and you can find many snail shells with holes lying around wood piles, and ivy beds where the rats hang out.
- A word on Monterey Garden Insect Spray: We have become favorably impressed with Monterey Garden Insect Spray which has Spinosad as its active ingredient. This is a step up from Bt and is listed favorably by the Organic Materials Review Institute. Particularly impressive is that it can be used up to one day before harvest on Swiss Chard to control leaf miners.
Beware of those radio ads which proclaim that their potting soil is not 'just dirt.' Please compare their product to Gardener's Gold potting soil. A good potting soil should have an absolute minimum of six ingredients. Gardener's Gold has nine, theirs has five and is 'just plain dirt' compared to Wegman's Gardener's Gold. (The potting soil sold by the big box store with the railroad calendars has only three!)