This year started with a record dry spell, unfortunately, so watering wisely will be crucial this spring and summer. If we’re lucky, we’ll have a few April showers to give the ground a good soaking as we head into our dry season. Enjoy the longer daylight hours in your garden this month while keeping in mind these tips to realize a beautiful summer bounty.
FLOWERS AND VEGETABLES
Annuals and perennials: Plant warm-season annuals including marigolds, zinnias, lobelia, and border dahlias. Shasta daisies, dianthus, delphiniums, and other perennials can also be planted now. Buy your annuals without blooms so that they will bloom after you transplant them.
Vines: Annual vines work well in small vertical spaces. They are ideal to cover up an eyesore of a wall or fence and create privacy and shade. Morning glories and nasturtium are two varieties to consider.
Vegetables: When planning your summer vegetable garden, remember that leafy vegetables need at least six hours of sunlight to develop fully. Fruiting vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, squash, and eggplant require 10 hours of sunlight.
Snails and slugs: There are many nontoxic methods available to control these pests, such as beer or dry dog/cat food. Search the Internet for many more.
Aphids: Combat aphids 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.
Mosquitoes: Make sure there is no standing water lurking around your garden or yard, which is a breeding ground for these annoying pests.
Weeds: Weeds steal both water and nutrients from plants, so pull them before they have a chance to set deep roots. If weeds get the opportunity to seed, they will be more troublesome because they will have spread. It’s easiest to weed
right after a rainstorm.
Watering: Water during morning or evening only to reduce the amount of water lost to evaporation. Watering early in the day is preferable because wet foliage from evening watering makes plants susceptible to fungal diseases. Use a nozzle hose faucet, a water timer, and the proper sprinkler, and only water what needs to be watered by controlling the coverage area.
Soaker hoses: Consider a small investment in a soaker hose that allows moisture to seep through its walls. It can be woven through a garden, providing water directly onto the soil, soaking the roots. This also prevents soil erosion and puddling and uses up to 70 percent less water. Soaker hoses are also ideal for watering trees and shrubs and will help reduce the spread of black spot disease on roses.
Roses: Start a preventative program of spraying your roses to prevent diseases like powdery mildew and rust. Use a rose defense spray as an organic alternative to chemical pesticides. Spray every
Mulch: Place mulch or bark around trees, shrubs, and plants. Mulch slows evaporation, reducing plants’ water needs, keeps soil temperatures even, and prevents weeds from germinating. It also improves the organic content and texture of soil, and can add some curb appeal to the landscaping in the front of your home, too.
CONSIDER NATIVE PLANTS
Native plants are defined as those that have evolved naturally in a particular area before other plants from foreign locations were introduced. Co-evolving with local animals, fungi, and microbes, native plants form a complex network of relationships, or ecosystem, and have adapted to local environmental conditions. Therefore, they are hardy enough for local winter and summer conditions. Most natives are perennial, which means they continue to grow year after year. Because native plants have evolved within their own ecological habitats, they are not invasive and grow in balance with other local plant and animal species.
Highly diverse, native plants offer a range of beautiful flowers and interesting foliage. Shrubs and trees provide a variety of heights, shapes, and textures in landscaping. In addition, native plants are drought tolerant, low maintenance and once established, don’t require irrigation or fertilization. Only occasional trimming is needed to allow them to flourish and appear beautiful. Whatever your needs in gardening and landscaping, rest assured that you will find something to suit your interest with native plants.