Happy first day of summer! The heat is only beginning. During a drought year, managing your garden’s water needs can become problematic. Help your garden cope with a layer of cooling mulch around plants. Keep the mulch at least an inch away from trunks or main stems to avoid crown rot.
• Some vegetables can still be planted now, including corn, lima beans, cucumbers, okra, parsnips, pumpkins, squash and watermelon. Make sure your seedlings stay hydrated. Seed for giant Halloween pumpkins should be planted in late June or early July.
• In the flower garden, plant seeds for alyssum, celosia, marigold, periwinkle, sunflower and zinnias.
• Cut back Shasta daisies after flowering to promote a second bloom in fall.
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• Feed camellias, azaleas and other acid-loving plants. Make sure to water well before fertilizing.
• Pinch back mums for more blooms this fall.
• This has been a puzzling year for some varieties of blackberries and close cousins olallie, marion, logan and other blackberry crosses. Due to a dry winter, lack of chill hours and badly timed spring rains, some berry vines bore little fruit if any at all. Most late varieties are running two to three weeks early. To keep your vines healthy and bearing as much as possible, keep their roots consistently moist (but not soggy wet). These vines benefit from a weekly deep soaking. If using drip irrigation, run double lines on either side of the vines to keep their root zone comfortable.
– Debbie Arrington