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Watch out for stinkers in June garden

Brown marmorated stink bugs hang out on a house on 13th Street in midtown Sacramento.
Brown marmorated stink bugs hang out on a house on 13th Street in midtown Sacramento. rpench@sacbee.com

Bugs love June weather – and not just June bugs. As the weather warms, pests come out in force. Stay vigilant to protect your young plants.

In particular, watch out for stink bugs and leaf-footed bugs on tomatoes, squash, sunflowers, beans and developing fruit. An effective way to control them is to pick them off by hand and dispose of them, preferably by dropping them into soapy water. (They can’t swim!)

Or you can suck them up with a hand-held vacuum. The downside of that method: That vacuum will stink afterward and forever be dedicated to bug catching. Make sure to wear gloves while bug hunting. Stink bugs and their leaf-footed cousins really do stink.

▪ Avoid pot “hot feet.” Place a 1-inch-thick board under container plants sitting on pavement. This little cushion helps insulate them from radiated heat and keeps roots cooler. That means less plant stress.

▪  Thin grapes on the vine for bigger, better clusters later this summer.

▪  Cut back fruit-bearing canes on berries.

▪  Mulch, mulch, mulch! Mulching helps conserve water while keeping your plants’ roots cool and moist. When applying mulch, leave a circle around trunks or main stems to avoid crown rot.

▪  Tie up vines and stake tall plants such as lilies. That gives their heavy flowers some support.

▪  If you still have room in your veggie garden, transplant seedlings for tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and squash. Look for varieties that mature in 75 days or less.

▪  From seed, it’s the right time to plant pumpkins, radishes, squash and sunflowers. Make sure to keep seedlings evenly moist.

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