Checklist: In the garden and around the home

Published: Saturday, May. 5, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 12CALIFORNIA LIFE
Last Modified: Sunday, May. 6, 2012 - 1:50 pm


Use water wisely. That's the message all May during California's Water Awareness Month.

"Water is a vital necessity for California's people, wildlife, ecosystems and economy," said Mark Cowin, director of the state's Department of Water Resources.

Yet so much of our valuable water goes down the drain.

This month, water agencies throughout the state will promote conservation of this vital resource.

The Regional Water Authority, which represents two dozen water providers in the greater Sacramento area, reports that local residents are making water saving a habit. So far, residents have pledged to save nearly 18 million gallons of water by taking the "Blue Thumb" pledge at

That website also provides links for water-wise rebates. Many service providers offer rebates for such water-saving improvements as low-flow toilets, efficient clothes washers and "smart" irrigation systems.

During warmer months, most household water use goes toward landscaping. As temperatures start to climb, the RWA offers these tips:

Adjust your watering schedule at least every month according to anticipated weather.

Stop runoff. If you see runoff, divide your total watering time in half for two shorter watering cycles.

Check your irrigation system every month for leaks and misdirected sprinkler heads.

Fix water-wasting problems in your irrigation system within 48 hours of finding them.

Plant low water-use trees and plants in your yard.

Replace or reduce lawn areas with low-water-use plants.

Contact your local water provider for assistance on using water efficiently around your home.

For more tips, click on or


May is prime time for planting summer vegetables. Among the veggies you can plant now from seed: lima and snap beans, carrots, chard, corn, cucumbers, melons, okra, pumpkins, soybeans, squash and watermelon.

Start setting out tomato transplants as well as seedling eggplants and peppers.

Time to harvest, too. Bring in lettuce, cabbage and green onions. Picks peas and fava beans.

In the flower garden, plant alyssum, aster, celosia, cleome, cosmos, four o'clocks, marigold, morning glory, periwinkle, rudbeckia, salvia, sunflower, verbena and zinnia.

Watch out for snails and slugs. They'll gobble everything in sight. Go snail hunting with a flashlight an hour after dark. Hand-pick the critters and destroy.

Watch out for mosquitoes, too. They're also very active, especially in early morning and early evening. Wear long-sleeve shirts and long pants while outdoors when the bugs are biting.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Debbie Arrington

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