ZONE 10 GARDEN CHECKLIST OF SUMMER TASKS, JUNE 2010

June is a good time to complete the following tasks if you have not already done so. Check out the links below for more product information.

– Prune or cut back any plants that are getting straggly, over-grown or too dense. Your aim is to get a jump on the aggressive growth you can anticipate in the long days and warm temps of summer, plus provide for better air movement through the foliage as a disease prevention method. Remember to feed when you prune.

– Prune palms and trees to prevent damage in a big blow, but avoid the “10-2” prune we see all too often on palms. Check these links for more from IFAS on pruning palms and trees & shrubs.

– Feed your landscape. As temperatures warm and the rains begin, plants will grow, give them what they need to grow healthy. If you have palms in your yard, be sure to use a feed labeled for palms. Because palms have specific nutrient needs, you can actually do more harm than good to your palms by using the wrong feed within 30 feet of a palm. We recommend Harrell’s Palm & Shrub with it’s slow release nitrogen, low phosphate and full array of micro-nutrients, formulated for palms. If you have already begun to see nutrient deficiencies, try a chelated nutritional spray from Southern Agricultural Products. These easy to use products put readily available nutrients right where they are needed for immediate response.

-Begin a program of pest intervention to catch problems early . In the warm seasons, when plants grow actively, there is an increase in pest populations. Step up your scouting efforts, particularly on those pest-prone plants in your yard. For me that can be those troublesome worms on my snowbush, pink hibiscus mealy bugs on my mahoe, black sooty mold on my gardenia, mites on my angel trumpet. . . you get the picture. You may not be able to identify exactly what it is that’s eating you, but if you grab a sample of affected plant, put it in a zip-lock baggie and bring it in, we can help you find a solution. We have a wide array of low toxicity, high efficacy solutions that we know work.

-Mosquitos are pests too! Gather what you need to keep the buggers off your back! We offer some great solutions from citronella candles to scented geraniums. ThermaCell Lanterns that emit deet-free repellents and Superband  for your arms & legs to keep them at bay while you work. One of my favorite products is YardSafe in granules or convenient hose-end spray. A composite of cedar, clove and thyme it really works to keep fleas, mosquitoes, no-see-ums and other biting pests away from your patio- and ankles! Be a dear and take part in our campaign to reduce mosquitoes. We are giving away FREE mosquito plunks for folks to drop in whatever standing water you come across. Let’s all do our part to keep these pests in check this summer.

– Be on the lookout for disease that is fed by high humidity and heat. Problems with bacterial leaf spots and fungal infections become more pervasive in the summer months. Watch for brown, slippery wet lesions on leaves. Remove diseased foliage (be sure not to contaminate other parts of the plant, or other plants with your tools) and keep the area clean of decaying debris. Water early in the day so that leaves are dry before sundown and minimize splash by using root-zone irrigation rather than overhead. This is also a very effective way to conserve water! Consider taking action to prevent disease in the first place by using what the pros use: Key-Plex Nutritional Spray boosts plants’ immunity and prevents disease from taking hold. Formerly only available to professional growers, we are excited to be able to offer this product packaged for home use– just attach it to the hose end and water! If disease gets the best of your garden, we recommend OMRI listed Serenade.

– Refresh your containers and beds with warm season color such as vinca, begonias, angelonia, lantana, penta, portulaca, bush daisy, and many more. Come in to see the wide array of plants that you CAN do in the summer.

– Feed the butterflies Now is the time to put in some milkweed to support the monarch migration, fennel to support the swallowtails and passion vine for the fritillaries. Plus, help the adult population source the nectar they need to support their mating activities with buddlea, porterweed, lantana and penta to name but a few. Here’s a link with some cool pictures of butterfly eggs and larvae.

– Create Shade.  Plant a tree, install an arbor, place a vine or hang a Shade Sail. Whatever you do to create shade will save you money on your electric bill, and it will open up opportunities to try new plants that you couldn’t have before you had shade. See the promotions below to save money on some great shade-makers.

– Plan to Grow Your Own. In northern climes, January is the traditional garden-planning month. A time when seed orders are placed, plans are drawn and rows allocated based on what the gardener hopes to yield. Here, it is the heat of the summer that has us huddled indoors. A great time to plan your fall/winter crops. Need some help with that? Don’t miss the great speakers we are offering on July 17th to help you get started.

– Visit Tropical Gardens. Tropical gardens are at their best right now. Make a point of getting to one of the many beautiful Tropical Botanic gardens nearby to be inspired. Check out Fairchild Tropical Gardens , Selby Gardens of St. Pete’s historic Sunken Gardens.  Want to stay closer to home? Explore McKee in Vero Beach, La Maison Fluerie in Rio  or local favorite, Tropical Ranch Botanical Garden in Stuart. Don’t want to travel alone? Watch for our field trip to Redlands Fruit & Spice Park, and ride along with us. Want to plan your own space to be that lush but don’t know where to start? Consider a meeting with Anna Morgan, ASLD, FCLD . For just $50 she will meet with you at Pinder’s and help you plan your own Tropical Paradise!

– Begin to Compost. Find a spot where you can pile up all that debris you have pruned. Allow space for three 3×3 piles. Layer dried carbon-rich, “brown” waste (leaves, chipped palm fronds, brown bags from the grocery) 2 inches thick followed by 1 inch of nitrogen laden “green” waste (kitchen scraps –no animal products– grass clippings, corn shuckins’). Add a bio-activator to accelerate the process and stand back. The compost can be incorporated into your landscape beds or vegetable garden or used as nutrient rich mulch come fall.

– Clear the Thatch From Your Lawn. The thick underlayings of your lawn inhibit water penetration and choke out healthy growth. Don’t work too hard to remove thatch, use Natural Guard Bio Activator to chemically dissolve the thatch using natural humic acid. The end result? Healthier soil. For more, check this out.

– Make Room for More Beds. If you have been wanting to rid yourself of some lawn, now is a great time to kill it to the roots. Simply cover with light blocking material, preferably black to intensify the heat, and wait about 3 weeks. If 3 weeks feels too long, then apply QuickPRO herbicide by Round Up to speed the process. Because this professional quality herbicide contains diquat as well as Round-Up you will get immediate (24 hours) die back, decreasing your wait time to 1 week of black covering. You will be able to peel back the cover, incorporate some of that compost and start with a fabulous new bed. Because this approach has a “solarizing” effect of killing all micro-organisms you will be free of pesky nematodes, but will need to re-inoculate with the beneficial microbes that make your soil come alive. We recommend THRIVE products to achieve the desired microbial activity.

– Get Thee to the Beach! It’s why we live here after all. So get out and enjoy our coast, tell everyone how beautiful it is, and encourage friends up north to come and visit. Participate in a clean up or open an umbrella and read something playful. In fact, if you want to browse a garden magazine on the beach, stop in to help yourself to one of my many back issues headed for the recycle bin! Chose Fine Gardening, Garden Design or American Horticulture. Bring in your old issues if you wish and we can start a library!

Well, that is quite the to-do list! Be sure to protect yourself from the heat with plenty of water, sunblock of at least a 30 SPF (put it on inside and wait 30 minutes before going out), wear a wide-brimmed hat and cover your arms. Check out the Naked Bee sunblock we offer, garden hats for less than $10 and NEW Sunflower arm-length sunblock gloves that keep you cool but protected.