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June a Good Time to Plant Heat-Happy Vegetables

Try these tips to enjoy a full Southern California summer garden

There is still time to enjoy a full Southern California summer garden by planting heat-happy vegetables in June. The typically mild Southern California temperatures during the month give these vegetables a good start for the hotter months ahead, according to experts at Agromin, an Oxnard-based manufacturer of earth-friendly soil products made from organic material collected from more than 50 Southern California communities including cities throughout Santa Barbara County.

» Plant vegetables that can withstand heat: A number of vegetables can be planted in June that can thrive even in the soon-to-be-here heat of summer. These include summer squash, pumpkins, corn, lima beans, okra, all types of peppers, zucchini, melons and eggplant.

» Trim herb plants: Herbs planted in early spring should have full, healthy leaves by June. Keep an eye out for signs of blooms and remove them immediately whenever spotted. This will keep herbs focused on growing bigger leaves. If herbs are allowed to go to seed, their leaves dry and become bitter tasting.

» Prepare lawn for summer: Thatch is dead or decaying debris between a lawn’s grass blades and roots. If allowed to become too thick, water will not absorb into the roots. You may find yourself watering your grass, but most of the water will either run off or evaporate. Aerate and dethatch warm season lawns (such as Bermuda grass and St. Augustine) now by using a dethatching rake or aerator (available for rent at large home centers). The aerator punctures holes in the surface of the lawn enabling water to penetrate and deeper root growth. Apply a light layer of lawn topping to keep in moisture and reduce water usage. This is also the best time to reseed lawn bare spots.

» Harvest early: Homegrown vegetables rarely grow as large as those found in the store. Harvest them as soon as you see a slowdown in growth. This will encourage new growth. Vegetables left too long on the plant are a signal for the plant to stop producing. For some vegetables, it can be hard to tell when it is time to harvest. Carrots are ripe when their tops peak out of the ground and their leaves turn a dark green. Garlic bulbs are ready to harvest when the foliage begins to dry naturally. Once picked, let the garlic (with stems) dry on a slotted tray in a warm, dry and shaded area.

» Keep rodents from decimating your garden: Nothing can be more frustrating to a gardener than to wake up in the morning to find that rabbits have spent the night feasting on vegetables and flowers. One line of defense is to build a fence around the perimeter of the garden at least 1 foot deep and 3 feet high. Another natural way of reducing rodent invasions is to plant strong smelling plants around the garden such as marigolds, garlic, onion, sage and rosemary. Also try spraying a mixture of 2 tablespoons of cayenne pepper with 1 quart of warm water on and around plants.

» Trellis vegetables: A variety of vining plants will produce more crops when grown on trellises. Trellis gardening also requires less space than traditional gardens. Vining vegetables that do especially well when grown on a trellis include cucumbers, squashes and tomatoes. Because the vegetables are kept off the ground, mildew and bug damage is reduced.

Click here for more gardening tips.

— Diane Rumbaugh is a publicist representing Agromin.

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