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Garden Checklist: Celebrate summer by keeping roots cool

Help your garden cope with the coming summer heat by adding a layer of cooling mulch around plants. Mulch retains moisture, cools roots and cuts down on weeds that may rob your plants of water.
Help your garden cope with the coming summer heat by adding a layer of cooling mulch around plants. Mulch retains moisture, cools roots and cuts down on weeds that may rob your plants of water. Bigstock

Happy (almost) summer! In addition to Father’s Day, Sunday also marks the official first day of summer. Although recent triple-digit temperatures have made it feel like we’re well into August, 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. Mulch retains moisture, cools roots and cuts down on weeds that may rob your plants of water. That makes mulch a win-win-win addition to your summer garden. Apply mulch 2 to 3 inches thick around trees, shrubs and vegetable plants. Keep mulch at least 4 to 6 inches away from trunks or main stems to avoid crown rot.

Seed for giant Halloween pumpkins should be planted in late June or early July.

▪ 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, it’s time to 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.

▪ Are your blackberries not bearing? Blame it on the drought. The dry winter weather along with lack of chill hours meant some berry vines bore little fruit if any at all. And those that are bearing are ripening two 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

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