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May a Perfect Time to Plant in Southern California

Longer days in May mean more daylight hours to spend planting garden vegetables and flowers, say experts at Agromin, an Oxnard-based manufacturer of earth-friendly compost products made from organic material collected from more than 50 California cities including those in Santa Barbara County.

» Plant herbs: Any serious chef knows that using fresh herbs when cooking makes everything taste better. Fresh herbs don’t have to be expensive. Plat favorites such as basil, cilantro, dill, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage and tarragon, and harvest the leaves for cooking as you need them. Pinch back any signs of flowers to extend the life of the plant.

» Remove aphids naturally: Aphids are tiny bugs, usually green or black, that latch on to new plant growth and feed on plant sap. This causes new growth to curl. Ultimately, it can affect the health of the plant.

Remove aphids naturally by focusing a strong spray of water on the aphids several times a day for a week. The aphids will have trouble reattaching to the plant. Also, try spraying a mixture of 1 cup vegetable oil, 1½ cups water and 2 teaspoons dish soap onto the plant. Wait several hours and then rinse the plant with fresh water. Finally, introduce ladybugs to the garden. They feed on aphids.

» Plant annuals: Spring and summer are unique times to showcase flowers that only grow seasonally. These plants include begonia, chrysanthemum, geranium marigolds, zinnia, petunias, impatiens and sunflowers. If buying these plants from the nursery, select smaller sized plants with healthy green foliage. Plants that appear too big for their container will take longer to establish and not bloom as well as their healthier, smaller counterparts.

» Don’t over-water your lawn: As soon as the weather warms, many homeowners tend to over water their lawns. Soil under your lawn should be moist 4 to 6 inches below the service. Check by making a small hole in the lawn and test the moisture content with your finger. Another way to test for moisture is to simply step on the grass. If it flattens, you need to water. Water in the early morning, never during midday, so less water evaporates. Water less often, but longer. Deep watering allows roots to grow downward so they will be protected during hotter days.

» Thin out fruit trees to encourage production: Fruit trees should be in full bloom during May. They typically produce more fruit than can grow to maturity. Some of the immature fruit will fall off naturally. Thin the remaining smaller, unhealthy-looking fruit from the branches. This will allow the stronger fruit to thrive.

» Plant your veggies: If you haven’t done so already, plant vegetables now to enjoy in summer. These include artichoke, beets, cucumber, eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, beans, corn, melons and squash.

» Add perennials: Fill out your flower garden with perennials that bloom in summer. Plant such perennials as asters, coreopsis, clematis, coneflowers, daylilies, ice plant, speedwell, Shasta daisies, salvia and stokes aster.

Click here for more gardening tips.

— Diane Rumbaugh is a publicist representing Agromin.

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