Savor this last breath of spring. Summer officially starts Monday, but the heat is only beginning. As we’ve learned during drought years, managing your garden’s water needs can become problematic.
Help your precious plants cope with a layer of cooling mulch. Stick to organic materials such as bark or straw; rock absorbs too much heat and stresses roots. If using bark chips or straw, put down a blanket 4 inches deep. If using shredded bark or leaves, 2 inches is sufficient; otherwise, the mulch may mat and block water from seeping through. 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. Now is the right time to plant seed for giant Halloween pumpkins; they’ll be ready to pick in October.
▪ 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.
▪ Feed camellias, azaleas and other acid-loving plants. Make sure to water well before fertilizing.
▪ Pinch back mums for more blooms this fall.