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There’s Plenty of Planting to Do in May for Summer Flowers, Vegetables

Plant heating-loving flowers and vegetables in May so they are in full bloom and producing in summer, says 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 from seed: There is still time to plant vegetables from seed that thrive in summer sun. These include corn, onions, peppers, cucumber, eggplant, green beans, melons and squash. These vegetables are fast growing and will produce vegetables by mid-summer.

» Use tomato trusses: Tomato plants need support as they grow. Add a tall metal or wooden truss around each tomato plant to support the plant as it grows it heavy fruit (especially the big beefsteak and heirloom varieties). This will prevent the stems from bending or breaking.

» Plant summer bloomers: Add splashes of color to your flower garden with summer bloomers. These hearty perineals require minimal water once established: African iris, sea lavender, California fuchsia, bird of paradise and Lily-of-the-Nile. Plant summer annuals as well including petunias, marigolds, salvia and impatiens.

» Add mulch: With rising water rates, now is the time to add a two to three inch layer of mulch around flowers, trees and shrubs. Much not only reduces weeds, it holds in moisture so you water less.

» Add drought-tolerant grasses: While removing lawns have become a popular way to save water, certain clump grasses are actually drought-tolerant. These include sheep fescue, deergrass and purple needle grass. Once established, they need very little water, even in summer. Plant them as groundcover.

» Plant wildflowers: Scatter wildflowers throughout your flower garden for surprise color. Plants native to Southern California so do especially well are California poppy, sky lupine, tidy tips and globe gilia.

» Double check your irrigation schedule: Make sure you are not overwatering. Set your irrigation system to water in the early morning hours. Monitor initially to be sure there is no runoff. Add a drip system to your garden. This will enable water to reach directly into the plants’ root system. Trees and shrubs benefit from weekly deep watering instead of quick watering several times a week.

» Dethatch your lawn: Thatch is an organic layer of dead grass stems and roots between the green grass above and the roots below. Thatch will decay naturally, but if it builds up it can stop air and water from getting to your lawn's root system. Aerate and dethatch your lawn in May so water can easily penetrate to the roots. Apply a light layer of lawn top dressing to keep in moisture.

» Thin fruit trees: Fruit trees produce more fruit than can grow to maturity. Some of the immature fruit will fall naturally during May. Thin the remaining smaller fruit from the branches. That way, stronger fruit will grow larger and tastier.

Click here for more gardening tips.

— Diane Zakian Rumbaugh is a publicist representing Agromin.

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