Monthly garden reports brought to you by Coronado Floral Association
Keep adding mulch to your garden beds throughout the summer to conserve water, keep roots cool, and the weeds under control. It’s important to water well before applying mulch, or you will just insulate the dry soil underneath. Pile mulch two to six inches deep under shrubs, trees, vines, flower and vegetable beds, remembering not to let the mulch lay against the trunks of trees and shrubs to prevent rot.
Make sure your tomatoes are staked so they are supported well allowing for good airflow and so you may harvest more easily.
Heading into summer, plant tropicals including hibiscus, plumeria or bougainvillea.
Plant milkweed bushes to attract monarch butterflies to your yard. If you’re lucky, you can watch the lifecycle as they lay eggs, caterpillars hatch, grow and eventually form a beautiful chrysalis to produce the next generation. The whole cycle takes about a month.
Cymbidium orchids have finished blooming. If they are crowded in their pots, separate and repot your older cymbidiums. In the new pot, surround the original root ball with coarse organic material that drains well or buy specialty orchid soil and bark.
Water early in the morning to reduce evaporation. Consistent and deeper watering promotes deep root growth.
Aloes don’t need water right now, so withhold for the time being. They are resting for the next few months.
Water citrus and avocado trees deeply, every two or three weeks, and mulch to maintain uniformly cool temperatures. Citrus roots grow beyond the tree’s dripline, so make the basin area larger.
Plants are using a lot of energy to grow so they need food. Keeping them happy now will keep them healthier later.
If azaleas, gardenias, and other shrubs and citrus have yellow leaves but the veins remain green, they’re suffering from iron chlorosis. Water some chelated iron or iron sulfate into the soil around the plant roots. Chelating transforms the iron in the soil so plants can absorb it.
Blossom end rot can strike tomatoes, eggplant and peppers. The end or bottom of the fruit will sort of sink in, turn dark brown or black and become tough. All is not lost. Calcium deficiency is the problem but you can preempt the problem by amending the soil with a shot of calcium. Some forms are: bone meal, antacids, egg shells, plain old lime (not the fruit!). Keep the watering consistent and mulch to keep moisture from fluctuating too much.
Feed all plants with a balanced fertilizer such as 16-16-16. Well-nourished plants not only develop into stronger plants and produce flowers and fruits and vegetables longer, they are better-protected against insects and diseases, and better withstand heat and water stress.
An excellent “garden tea” fertilizer solution and foliage spray for general garden use is a mixture of one tablespoon fish emulsion*, one-half teaspoon seaweed or kelp, and one gallon of water. Spray this onto leaves, and irrigate root zones of vegetables, ornamentals, trees, and vines every two weeks throughout the growing season. It will help increase plant vigor and reduce insect damage. When applied later in the fall, it will help to harden plants for colder weather.
*A little tip on the fish emulsion – wear rubber gloves when applying because the smell will linger for quite awhile on your hands. It’s very effective but so stinky! Also, beware if you have a dog. My dog will go nuts if I apply this anywhere she has access, which means holes dug to China and dirt everywhere, including on the dog!
Feed fruit trees approximately every three weeks during their growing season with a half or quarter dose of fertilizer to encourage them to produce fruit and grow strong for next year’s fruit.
Plumeria trees are starting to bloom now that the weather has warmed up a bit. When they start to send out bloom stalks, feed with Epson salts (1 tbsp: 1 gal water) and Super Bloom for the next couple of months.
Pest and Disease Control
Black sooty mold caused by aphids may start to appear on your citrus, so blasting plants with a jet spray of water from your hose will really help a lot. Do it every couple of days to keep the problem under control. If you need to go to the next level of pest control, spray with a soapy water mixture.
Protect vine vegetables from snails and slugs by lifting the fruits up onto cans, berry baskets, or boards. Also, spread crushed eggshells under each plant as snail and slug protection. They don’t like the sharp particles.
It is tempting to let your fruit trees produce as much as they can, but it is important to thin fruits on trees and vines. When thinned, trees will produce fewer but larger individual fruits, rather than many tiny ones. Fruit trees should be thinned evenly on each side of the tree to lessen strain on the tree, especially the young ones. Prune at least three inches between apricots and plums; and five inches between peaches, nectarines, pears, and apples.
Citrus trees bear fruit produced on new wood, so remove entire branches (thinning) rather than shortening them (heading back). To redirect branches, trim them to a leaf pointing in the direction you want new growth to go.
Check your garden every couple of days for harvesting purposes. Pick early and often. Harvest your fruits and vegetables as soon as they are ripe so they are the freshest possible and the birds don’t start moving in on your hard work. Also, if veggies are left on the plant too long this will signal the plant to slow down so they won’t blossom as much. This is especially true for beans, cucumbers, eggplants, squashes, and tomatoes. Who doesn’t want the harvest to last longer, right?
Enjoy your bounty whether it’s fruit, veggies, or flowers. We can grow just about anything in Southern California so it’s easy to take for granted. Fresh cut flowers or a homegrown salad are always inspiring, and the dirt under the fingernails is a bonus!
Don’t forget: Suncreen! Hats! Gloves!