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Start gardening now for summer enjoyment

Start gardening now for summer enjoyment

It is believed that the month of May was named for the Greek goddess of spring and growth, Maia, who was the mother of Hermes, the gods’ winged messenger. How appropriate, as we celebrate Mother’s Day this month. May is also an ideal spring month to start work in the yard or garden to be able to enjoy it all summer long. It’s never too late to find your green thumb.

Vegetables and herbs

If you have not yet planted your vegetable garden, do so now. Many vegetables can be grown in containers, and most herbs happily thrive in them. Just buy some organic potting soil and get started. Gardening is an experiment, an adventure, and with herbs and veggies, it’s especially fun and rewarding.

Carrots: Besides the fiber and vitamins packed into carrots, the lacy foliage is a wonderful addition to a garden or container, and carrots grow easily from seeds.

Stevia, the sweet herb: This herb has become popular in recent years as a sugar substitute, marketed as Truvia. Stevia is simple to grow, and it is calorie free. A couple of leaves in tea or coffee will sweeten it the same as sugar would. This herb is great for people with diabetes too. In winter months, stevia will do better indoors, so it is ideal to grow it in a container that can be easily moved.

Lemon grass: If you enjoy Indian and Asian cooking, lemon grass is a great addition to your garden. The leaves can also be used to make tea, and it has a fragrant, intoxicating scent.

Flowers

If you enjoy fresh flowers in your home, sow some seeds of perennials and annuals for a cutting garden. Choose flowers of different heights that will bloom at different times, so you always have something to pick.

Summer bulbs: These should be planted right away if they haven’t been already. Plant dahlias, gladiolus, lilies, and begonias for summer color and a cutting garden.

Annuals: Buy your annuals without blooms so that they will bloom after you transplant them.

Vines: Annual vines work well in small vertical spaces and are ideal to cover up an eyesore of a wall or fence. Morning glories and nasturtium are two varieties that will work, also creating privacy and shade.

Pests

The advent of spring also brings hungry, hatching garden pests, which can threaten your newly planted garden (or you). Take steps now to control them before they wreak havoc.

Aphids: Aphids may be problematic by now. Combat them with the hose (a strong spray, but you’ll have to do this every few days) or with ladybugs. For a more aggressive approach, try organic insecticidal soap or neem oil.

Slugs and snails: There are many nontoxic methods available to control these pests, such as beer or dry dog/cat food. Search the Internet for many more.

Mosquitoes: Make sure there is no standing water lurking around your garden or yard, which is a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

Maintenance

Once you’ve planted your garden, to keep it looking its best requires regular attention. After all, that’s what makes you a gardener!

Weed: Weeds steal both water and nutrients from plants, so give your plants a fighting chance by clearing away any weeds — it’s easiest after a light rain.

Mulch: Mulch your garden to prepare for the warmer and drier months ahead. Mulch conserves water, keeps soil temperatures even, and prevents weeds from germinating. It also improves the organic content and texture of soil.

Rotate crops: Keep soil in good shape and control pests by rotating your vegetable crops annually.

Soaker hoses: Soaker hoses prevent soil erosion, conserve water, and are ideal for shrubs. Also, watering your roses with soaker hoses will help reduce the spread of black spot disease.

Looking for a few lemons!

Imagine San Francisco as a city that can be self-sufficient in some food crops. One achievable goal is the lovely lemon: 12,000 trees will produce the three pounds a year per person that is typically consumed. Most lemons and other citrus are produced in Southern California, and a recent study found that the Bay Area is deficient in lemon production. JustOneTree.org is a campaign to promote planting fruit trees as the most efficient crop for dense cities. This project is an arm of the nonprofit group Urban Resource Systems, established in 1981 to promote greater urban self-reliance through community action.

The Department of Public Works estimates there are between 2,000 and 4,000 lemon trees in the City, and JustOneTree.org would like all lemon trees registered so they can work on planting more in deficient areas to reach the self-sufficiency goal. Visit www.JustOneTree.org to register your new or existing lemon trees.

See you in the garden!

Julia Strzesieski is the marketing coordinator of Cole Hardware and can be reached at julia@marinatimes.com.

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