A thriving summer garden does not mean higher water bills, say experts at Agromin, an Oxnard-based manufacturer of earth-friendly compost products made from organic material collected from more than 50 California cities.
» Plant heat-loving vegetables: Some vegetables do better in summer warmth than others. These include corn, cucumbers, eggplant, green beans, peppers, pumpkin, melons, summer squash and zucchini. Once established, some plant leaves may wilt during the hottest portions of the day, but will bounce back when temperatures cool so don’t over-water.
» Plant herbs requiring little water: Rosemary, English thyme, oregano and sage all do well with little watering. Remember, however, newly planted herbs require regular watering until the roots are established.
» Keep grass blades high: To help avoid burned and browned lawns, keep your lawn on a 3-inch setting. With longer blades of grass, your lawn will use less water and the longer blades will help keep out weeds.
» Use plenty of mulch: Mulch is a gardener’s best friend during warmer months as it absorbs water, reduces erosion and keeps weeds in check. Its value dissipates with time, however, so it needs to be replenished at least once a year. Place about 3 inches of fresh mulch around flowers, trees and shrubs. Make sure the mulch does not touch the base of the plant.
» Get rid of weeds now: The best time to control weeds is early, before they flower and establish their root system. Waiting until after they flower makes the process more difficult, plus you run the risk of the flowers spreading weeds seeds around your garden. Pull weeds now and then cover the area with mulch to keep weeds from returning.
» Keep roses blooming: Rose bushes should be in full bloom by June. To ensure flowers throughout summer and beyond, prune back each stem low enough to keep rose bushes dense. Remove branches that only grow within the center of the bush as these branches absorb nutrients that would otherwise be used for flowers on the outside branches.
» Plant pumpkins for Halloween: Pumpkins are a slow-growing vegetable so it’s time to plant them now so they are ready in time for Halloween. The plants need lots of warmth and moisture, especially initially, to thrive. Make sure to leave about 8 to 10 feet around each plant for its vines to spread and develop. Yellow flowers will start to appear about three weeks after plant growth begins. The flowers will develop into pumpkins after they are pollinated. Pumpkins will be ready for picking in three to four months. They can remain on the vine until the pumpkins are ready for carving.
» Grow a garden in a pot: You don’t need a large space to create a beautiful garden. Plant flowers such as begonias, petunias, geraniums, impatiens, succulents and fuchsias in containers. Cherry tomatoes, lettuce, peppers and herbs also work well in pots. Plants in containers dry out more quickly than if planted in the ground. Keep the container plants well watered and place the container in a location where it gets some shade each day.
» For a dramatic flourish, add an oak: If you have the space, adding an oak tree to your yard can make a dramatic statement. These trees are hardy, drought tolerant and native to central and southern California. The largest of them all, the valley oak, can reach 100 feet high. Other varieties include coast live oak, which can grow as high as 70 feet, scrub oak, with its dense growth can grow up to 15 feet, and interior live oak, which can reach between 30 to 75 feet in height.
— Diane Rumbaugh is a publicist representing Agromin.