Summer is here! And to make sure your garden and home landscape is ready for the heat, we have put together a few tips.
As always, wise-water use is key to success here in Sonoma County…especially during summer months! ON AVERAGE, during the summer – your garden needs 1 inch of water per square foot per week (1 inch of water in a square foot = 0.623 gallons). So let’s start with a few things that you can do to optimize the water you use to maintain your garden and landscape:
- REDUCE THE DEMAND by Replacing Your Lawn with drought-tolerant plantings such as natives and Mediterranean species. Checkout the many available rebate programs!
- FOCUS THE FLOW by Utilizing Drip Irrigation to minimize water-usage by allowing for consistent yet adjustable flow directly where it is needed.
- DOUBLE YOUR EFFORTS by Reusing Household Water (otherwise known as “greywater”) from washers and such, to irrigate the landscape
- MAKE IT LAST by Mulching around plantings and in pathways to minimize evaporation and compaction which keeps the soil moist longer, increases overall infiltration of waterings and suppresses unwanted plants.
When it comes to mulching remember 3 things:
1. GO THICK! We recommend for most plantings a 3-4” layer of mulch but 5” is even better for perennials.
2. LET YOUR PLANTS BREATHE! Most annuals can handle being tucked into a blanket of mulch but many perennials, especially woody plants such as shrubs and fruit trees need breathing room. Give these plants several inches clearance at their base to avoid fungal and other disease issues that can infect the bark. The mulch level at the base should never be higher than the soil level.
3. BE ALERT & ADAPTABLE! The weather is getting more unpredictable. Observe how your plants behave in these unusual conditions and garden accordingly.
Getting into the HEAT of it!
As you finish your transition from a spring to summer garden, choose early vegetable varieties with shorter “days to maturity,” that have high yields, and/or that are “drought-tolerant” or “drought-resistant” to efficiently use water. Note that “heat-resistant” refers to air temperature and does not mean that the variety performs well with less water.
- LESS IS MORE! Thin the small fruits on your apple, pear, peach and nectarine trees to about 4 to 6 inches apart – about the space between your thumb and pinky finger. Less fruit requires less water!
- SNACK TIME! It is a great time to give your heavy feeders a little food! They have been very active and need to replenish energy to get it through the season. Worm Tea is an easy way to get them a little power boost!
- OFF WITH THEIR HEADS! Dead-head roses and other flowers as the first round of blooms finishes. Cut blossoms for bouquets early in the morning and get them into deep, warmish water quickly – the stems will take up the water and remain fresh longer in the vase.
- MIND THE GAPS! Fill in empty spaces in flowerbeds or borders with annuals such as zinnias, container sunflowers or impatiens.
- YOU’RE GONNA GIT IT, SUCKAS! Pull or prune suckers from the bottom of sucker-prone plants such as wisteria, crab-apples, poplars, etc. Wisteria, in particular, needs aggressive pruning after bloom, cut back to 2 nodes on new branches to ensure a robust display of bloom next year. Remember to prune it again in the fall too!
- PARTING IS SUCH SWEETNESS! As the weather warms the aphid problem will lesson. But continue to be on the lookout for any remaining colonies and spray them off with water. Refer to University of California’s Integrated Pest Management (IPM) site for detailed info on management of aphids and other pests.
- FIGHT CRITTERS WITH CRITTERS! Build a bat or owl house or raptor perch. Bats eat moths – like the ones that lay worms on vegetables. Voles are a tasty treat for owls. Raptors can reduce your gopher population.
- VACATION = IRRIGATION! If you plan to be away this summer, ensure that you have someone to water, or set up your irrigation system on automatic timers.
- HANG ‘EM HIGH! Hammocks, that is. However you do it, hammocks or otherwise, make time and space to hang out in your garden. You’ve earned it!