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Summer Gardening to do list

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Oh the lazy days of summer!
Unfortunately it is not so lazy for those hard at work pests in your garden. What's with all the mold in your mulch and on your plants? The weather is beautiful, but why are the newly planted treasures wilting? We hope that the following information will make this lazy season a little less stressful and A LOT MORE FUN!

Let's begin with the basics, WATER! If your foliage is thirsty in this hot weather, you better make sure you keep them hydrated. Keep an eye on the following checklist to keep your cool this summer.

Watering your garden:

POWER - if you have an automatic sprinkler system, make sure you check connections for corrosion and battery leakage damage. Make sure transformers are working. Check for frayed or broken control wires.

FLUSH SYSTEM - Remove line end caps and run water until clear.

CLEAN FILTERS - Clean screens. Replace filter elements and broken or torn filter screens.

ADJUST TIMER SETTINGS - Adjust for changes in rain, or lack there of. Watering early in the morning saves water due to lower wind dispersal and reduced evaporation

VISUAL CHECK - Turn on your sprinkler system and check to see if all sprinkler heads are working. Are you watering the street or sidewalk? Are there obstructions preventing the water from reaching the areas you want it to ?

Planting in the Summer:

- You do not need to avoid planting during the hot summer months, but do keep these helpful hints in mind to ensure you grow healthy happy plants.

- Postpone planting on days when it is going to be extremely hot. Store your new plants in a shady place until a cooler day and make sure you water them often to keep their roots moist, (maybe twice a day).

- Do not bury the root ball deeper than it was growing in the nursery container. Plants can die if new soil is placed on top of the original root ball.

- Instead of giving new plants a shallow, but steady watering, (as a drip system would), offer your plants a deeper watering of 2 or more gallons every 3 days or so their roots become accustomed to looking deeper for water. Plants receiving frequent, shallow water have shallow roots that dry out very quickly in the heat.

- Avoid fertilizing thirsty plants. Typical fertilizers can burn on a hot day. Thoroughly water one day and fertilize the next day.

- It is not too late to plant summer blooming bulbs, especially here in California, try some dahlias or cannas. There is still time for quick-blooming summer seeds such as sunflowers, nasturtiums, and cosmos.

-garden full of poppies

Garden Pests :

The summer can be a killer when in comes to pests in your garden. Pests such as aphids, whiteflies, and mildew can really get out of control if you do not catch them early and stay on top of them. Inspect your plants; look for pests to begin emerging. If you catch them early enough, you can purchase beneficial insects to help control the damage. (Make sure you avoid chemical pesticides if you are going to use predatory insects, as the pesticide will kill both good and bad insects.) If you mix one part sugar to four parts water and spray your plants with the mixture before you release the beneficial insects, they will stay longer. The following is a list of predatory insects and the pesky insects they like to eat.

Predators and the Pests They Eat : 

Assassin Bugs - almost any small and immature insects, caterpillars

Ground Beetles - aphids, caterpillars, cutworms, and insect larvae; some eat slugs

Lacewings - thrips, aphids, spider mites, caterpillar eggs, and leafhoppers

Ladybugs - aphids, mealybugs, and small insects

Praying Mantis - aphids, beetles, flies, and small insects

Hover Flies - aphids and mealybugs
*Have striped bodies, may be mistaken for a bee or wasp

Pruning and Deadheading:

Deadheading and Pruning - It is crucial that you deadhead all spent flowers, especially those that self seed. The plant will continue to bloom rather than focus it's energy on creating seeds.

Pinch back all late summer and fall perennials to keep them bushy and healthy and to stagger blooming times.

Make sure to stake plants with heavy blooms and long stems like peonies and delphiniums. This will prevent stems from falling over, as they grow taller.

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