Summer is here .. be water-wise..!
A severe drought has us in its grip here in Southern California. We need to restrict the use of water in our gardens as much as possible....
Here is a link to a site that will calculate the watering schedule for different areas of your garden:
This is a very useful calculator for the water-wise gardener.
What to do in your garden ...
The summer solstice has passed and all around us flowers are blooming, vegetables are growing at top speed and birds and bees are singing and buzzing. Summer is indeed here! It is a wonderful season and we should reward ourselves by sitting in the garden, admiring the fruits of our work. However, if you are anything like me, the moment you sit down in your lawn chair in the shade of a garden umbrella, glass of cold white in hand, all you see are jobs that need doing. Let’s face it, gardening is a labor of love, with emphasis on the “labor”…
• Garden jobs to do: Pick the faded flowers from your annuals and deadhead your perennials to encourage production of new blooms. Don't let them go to seed as they will stop flowering if you do. Regularly weed flower beds and vegetable plots. Don't let the weeds or crab grass go to seed or you will have a never ending weed problem. Remember the old adage "One year's seeds, seven year's weeds"...It’s time for snail and slug damage so keep a lookout! Harvest them at dawn and dusk or sprinkle organic slug control pellets such as “Sluggo” or “Sluggo Plus”. Tiny worms may start damaging your geranium and petunia buds. If you see them pinch them off or spray with Bayer’s “Rose and Flower” insecticide. Change the water in your birdbath to discourage mosquitoes.
• Plant vines: Grow an evergreen vine such as red passion flower vine to cover a pergola; a scented vine like Jasmine to cover a fence,or for spectacular flowers - a fast growing Giant Dutchman's Pipe (photo left) with its huge flowers that can grow 14 inches long or more.
Another beautiful and easy to grow vine is Dalechampia or Bow tie Vine which has dark magenta flowers. (photo below left)
A modest grower such as Mandevilla can be grown in a container and trained to cover a balcony.
Create a shaded arbor over the barbecue with any one of these fast growing vines so that Dad can hide from the heat while grilling... Grow Scarlet Runner beans (photo below left) on the arbor.This is a fast growing vine with beautiful red flowers that produce long edible beans which are a favorite summer veggie in Britain.
• Plant now: In most parts of the West, gardeners are entering prime veggie time but there is still time to plant some edibles before the dog days of summer arrive. If you haven't already, plant heat-loving vegetables such as corn, cucmbers,eggplant, green beans, melons, peppers, pumpkin, summer squash, tomatoes, and zucchini. By the way, planting tomatoes in the same place twice depletes calcium, and leads to blossom end rot. Try to plant them in different soil. Before planting add gypsum to the soil for calcium.
You can also transplant palms and tropicals now as the ground has heated up sufficiently. Plant more basil if yours is going to seed and remember to pinch back blooms regularly. Grow chives, cilantro, rosemary, thyme, mint, and winter savory and and you’ll have fresh herbs all summer and beyond. Because cilantro germinates quickly, sow seeds directly in the container. Begin harvesting when plants reach 6 inches tall.
• Roses: After blooming roses need to be deadheaded in order to get rid of the spent flowers and give them more energy to produce new blooms. Make sure to fertilize them right after their bloom cycle! Keep an eye out for mildew (see article below) especially on days when the marine layer dominates.
• Azaleas: When Azaleas have completed their blooming cycle be sure to fertilize them with an acidifying fertilizer such as GrowMore Soil Acidifier.
• Lawns: Keep mowing regularly. It's the best thing you can do to control weeds and keep grass thick and healthy.
• Watering: Keep up with watering chores. Soak containers well but always remember the Golden Rule: never water anything if the soil is still wet! Try to stretch out the watering schedule to lower the number of times you water your plants in a week. Don't stress the plants of course but every little saving of water helps. Give your compost heap an occasional dousing to promote necessary decomposition. If it is drying out too quickly consider shading the heap a little to keep it moister longer. Inspect your irrigation system if you have one, for damaged sprinkler heads, which waste water. To get the best value for your water bill and time investment, grow something that’s hard to find or expensive at the supermarket, such as heirloom tomatoes, Carnival Blend carrots, and Royal Burgundy Beans.
• Drought Tolerant Plants: Established drought tolerant native plants and other dry-climate plants will need only infrequent, deep water from now until rains start (we hope) later in the year. Keep watering young succulents and plants in small pots.
• Tend potted succulents: In the early morning hose down summer-weary plants occasionally to diminish insect pests and dust. Clean up mineral deposits on dark succulents such as Aeonium arobreum 'Zwartzkop' by gently wiping leaves with a soft cloth soaked in distilled water. Also feed all actively growing succulents with either a cactus fertilizer such as Cactus Juice or an all-purpose liquid fertilizer diluted to one-quarter strength.
• Fertilize plants: Roses, lawns, annuals, perennials, container plants, citrus trees, fuchsias, avocado trees, vegetables, and flowers and just about anything actively growing will benefit from a balanced fertilizer. Also fertilize container plants. Keep an eye out for yellow or pale leaves with green ribs -- a sign of iron chlorosis. Apply chelated iron such as GrowMore Iron Chelate, according to package directions.
• Pests and Diseases: Now is the time to control a number of pests and diseases. Watch for fungal disease on tomatoes and roses and spray with a fungicide such as Serenade Disease Control, which is safe to use on edibles. Keep an eye out also for aphids and other small sucking insects, as well as whitefly and spider mites. If you cannot identify the pest bring in a sample of the problem and we will suggest treatment.
• Control bougainvillea looper: If leaves are severely scalloped, this tropical caterpillar is probably the cause. Treat plants with an organic insecticide such as Safer Caterpillar Killer.
• Manage giant whitefly: Examine the undersides of leaves of target plants such as fuchsia, hibiscus, and plumeria for white, waxy spirals where the eggs are deposited. Remove affected leaves, bag them in plastic, and dispose. Spray the undersides of the leaves with Bonide Neem Oil. It also helps to mix worm castings into the soil.
• Watch out for thrip. This tiny black succking insect congregates on the underside of leaves eventually tunring the leaves a silvery gray with lots of tiny black dots. They can spread throughout your garden before you are even aware of them so be vigilant. Spray with Bayer's Rose and Flower insecticide or treat with Bayers Systemic Rose and Flower granules.
• Protect fruit from birds and squirrels: Enclose trees and strawberry beds with bird netting to protect your crops. The next best thing is tying Mylar flash tape on tree branches.
• Stop Watering: When foliage on garlic, bulb onions, and shallots begins to dry out on its own, that’s your cue to stop watering. The lack of water prompts bulbs to form the dry outer layers that allow them to be stored.
• Harvest Potatoes: When the plant starts flowering and the leaves start to yellow and die that is a signal that the plant has done its job and the potatoes are ready to harvest. You don't have to take them all out of the soil if you don't need them all at once. You can just leave them in the soil for a while until you are ready to eat them but don't let the soil get wet or they will rot.
• Prune: If you haven't already done so now is the time to prune spring blooming shrubs that have finished blooming. Also remove dead leaves, if desired, but be sure to leave the living leaves or you'll seriously impede the plant's health. The exceptions to this pruning schedule are shrubs that bear berries in the fall such as Pyracantha and some Viburnums.
• Mulch: If you haven't already, apply a layer of mulch 2-3 inches deep on flower beds and around trees and shrubs. (Make sure it doesn't touch any part of the plants, however.) This reduces weeds, conserves moisture, and improves soil texture.
• Clean up: To keep wasps away and to help prevent fungal diseases clean up fallen fruit from citrus, peaches, apricots, apples, plums and other fruit trees, as well as rose bushes.
Powdery mildew is a fungal disease that affects a wide range of plants. It is one of the most widespread and easily recognized plant diseases and its symptoms are quite distinctive. Infected plants display white powdery spots on the leaves and stems. The disease is most commonly observed on the upper sides of the leaves. It also affects the bottom sides of leaves, stems, buds, flowers and young fruit. Infected leaves may become distorted, turn yellow with small patches of green, and fall prematurely. Infected buds may fail to open. As the disease progresses, the spots get larger and denser as large numbers of asexual spores are formed, and the mildew may spread up and down the length of the plant.
Almost no type of plant is immune, however some are more susceptible than others. Roses, phlox, grapes, squash, peas, sweet peas, tomatoes and cucumbers are all likely targets for powdery mildew. Powdery mildews are also common on certain herbaceous plants, such as begonias, chrysanthemums, dahlias, delphiniums, zinnias kalanchoes, and snapdragons. Powdery mildew fungi are host specific, meaning the different powdery mildew fungi infect different plants. Each species of powdery mildew has a very limited host range. Infection of one plant type does not necessarily mean that others are threatened. For example, the fungus that causes powdery mildew on lilac does not spread to roses and vice versa. However all powdery mildews favor the same conditions.
Powdery mildew is unattractive but rarely fatal. It may hasten plant defoliation and fall dormancy, and the infected plant may become extremely unsightly. On roses, uncontrolled powdery mildew will prevent normal flowering on highly susceptible cultivars. Powdery mildew stresses the plant and severe or repetitive infections will weaken the plant. If enough of the leaf surface becomes covered with powdery mildew, photosynthesis is impaired. Infected leaves often fall prematurely. This can be a particular problem on edible crops, since insufficient photosynthesis can diminish the flavor of the fruit or vegetable. If buds become infected, they may not open at all.
What Causes Powdery Mildew? The severity of the disease depends on many factors: variety of the host plant, age and condition of the plant, and weather conditions during the growing season. Powdery mildews are severe in warm, dry climates like ours. Most powdery mildew fungi produce airborne spores and infect plants when temperatures are moderate (60 to 80 degrees F) and will not be present during the hottest days of the summer. Unlike most other fungi that infect plants, powdery mildew fungi do not require water on the plant surface in order to germinate and infect. However, the relative humidity of the air does need to be high for spore germination for some powdery mildew fungi, especially those on roses. The ideal conditions for mildew to develop are dry leaves and high air humidity.Overcrowding and shading will keep plants cool and promote higher humidity. Therefore, the disease is common in crowded plantings where air circulation is poor and also in damp, shaded areas but it does not occur when leaf surfaces are wet (e.g., in a rain shower) or in extreme heat.
Young growth usually is more susceptible than older plant tissues. Powdery mildew fungi overwinter in plant debris and begin producing spores in the spring. These spores are carried to your plants by wind and insects.
Controlling Powdery Mildew: Choose healthy plants and plant them in soil amended with an organic fertilizer. Maintain regular irrigation - the soil should be moist 8 to 12 inches deep. To help reduce the relative humidity water in the morning. Ensure good air circulation and several hours of sunshine. Maintaining the plant in health and vigor will help it survive a powdery mildew infection. Try to find powdery mildew resistant cultivars. DO NOT plant highly susceptible plants--such as phlox, rose, and zinnia--in damp, shady locations. Space plants for good air circulation.
Once Your Plants are Infected: Improve air circulation by thinning and pruning. Then spray the plant with an appropriate fungicide such as Serenade. There are many commercial fungicides available. Check the label to be sure they are safe and effective on the type of plant that is infected. Look for ingredients such as: potassium bicarbonate, neem oil, sulfur or copper. Most fungicides will need repeat applications every 7 - 14 days, for continuous protection. Always follow the label instructions for both application and waiting period before harvest.
If the plant is severely infected remove and destroy all infected parts before spraying with a fungicide. Don’t fertilize until the problem is corrected. Powdery mildew favors young, tender growth.
For infected vegetables and other annuals, remove and destroy as much of the plant and its debris in the fall as possible. Rake up and destroy all dead leaves that might harbor the fungus. This decreases the ability of the fungus to survive the winter. Do not compost infected plant debris. Temperatures often are not hot enough to kill the fungi.
Unlike annuals, flowering perennials for shade have the advantage of not needing to be replaced every year... saving you time and money! Here are some of the best perennials for shade:
Heuchera (left), also known as coral bells, was recently acknowledged by The National Garden Bureau. That organization named 2012 the Year of the Heuchera. This plant is native to North America, but breeders have introduced many new varieties that did not exist, even 10 years
ago. Not only are these perennial plants aesthetically pleasing, but they have become strong, full and disease resistant.
Columbine or aquilegia (left) has a pretty, lacy flower and comes in many colors. Many are bicolored. The columbine is a perennial and will reseed itself.
Bergenia (left) is an evergreen perennial with large shiny, round leaves which add lots of leaf interest when grown among ferns. It gets spectacular pink flowers in very early spring and slowly spreads to provide a dramatic and beautiful ground cover. This is an under used plant in our shade gardens..
Campanula poscharskyana (left) is a spreading evergreen ground cover that is covered with beautiful blue bell shaped flowers that bloom from mid-spring to early autumn.
Liriope A strong, virtually indestructible group of evergreen plants with strappy leaves that thrive happily in all sorts of conditions from wet clay to extremely dry sandy soil. This deep purple variety is blooming in my garden right now. There are variegated varieties also some with silver and green leaves and some with yellow and green leaves. some varieties spread and some clump. All are perfect for our dry conditions.
Perennial Begonias: This is an amazing and absolutely underused group of long blooming plants that thrive in pots or in dry shade or semi-shade. They include tuberous begonias, Rex begonias, large leaf rhizomatous varieties, angel wing, dragon wing, begonia vines and strawberry begonia to name just a few. The secret is to not over-water them and give them between 2 and 4 hours of sun each day, preferably morning sun. Some disappear during the winter but if you keep them dry during this time they will come right back in spring. Above are just a few of the varieties that are blooming beautifully in my garden at the moment.
And here are just a few of the other varieties available at Deep Roots now:
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There really is nothing like tomatoes grown in your own garden. Not only do they taste better than store-bought, but you can control what goes on them and when they are picked.
Unfortunately, tomatoes aren't only popular with us--they are also a favorite host to umpteen pests and diseases. Here are a few of the more common problems you may find in your tomato patch and how you can avoid them in the future.
(For Powdery Mildew: See article below).
One very common problem is blossom end rot (photo above). The fruits look normal on the top, but when you go to pick them there is a large, unappetizing black spot on the blossom end of the tomato. This is not a disease, but is caused by a lack of calcium in the fruit. One way to avoid this is to make sure you water and mulch regularly. Regular moisture will also help keep the fruit from splitting. Increase the calcium in the soil by adding gypsum, or spray the leaves with a calcium foliar spray such as Green Light Blossom End Rot spray.
The two most harmful fungal diseases that attack tomato plants are fusarium wilt and verticillium wilt. Infected plants display yellowing and wilting of the older leaves about midsummer (see above). The yellowing moves up the stem until the whole plant is dead. If your tomato plants have suffered this fungal disease in previous years you should be proactive and practice crop rotation and plant wilt-resistant tomato varieties which are designated by a VF after the cultivar name.
Cause: Fungi that live in the soil and cause wilt symptoms. Verticillium Wilt fungi can survive in infected debris up to 8 years and are favored by cool weather (68F to 75F). Fusarium wilt fungi are favored by warmer weather (84F) and can survive several years in soil. Fusarium wilt is favored by high phosphorus, ammonium nitrogen, or micronutrient levels. Verticillium infect a wide range of weed and crop plants. These wilt fungi can be spread by infected equipment, transplants, and windborne or waterborne infected soil.
Symptoms: Symptoms are similar for both fungi, so the diseases cannot be distinguished based on symptoms alone. Lower leaves yellow, mostly on one side. Plants wilt during the hot part of the day but recover in the evening. Eventually the leaves remain wilted, shrivel, turn brown, and die. The vascular system discolors. Growth is retarded, and yields are low.
Reduce the chances of your tomatoes being infected by these fungi by growing tomatoes in large pots and changing the potting soil every year.
The tomato hornworm represents the larval stage of the hawk or sphinx moth, also known as hummingbird moths.
The moths overwinter in the soil as dark brown pupae, then emerge and mate in late spring. They lay their eggs, which are round and greenish-white, on the undersides of leaves. The eggs hatch in four to five days, and the hornworm emerges. It spends the next four weeks growing to full size, after which it will make its way into the soil to pupate.
Signs of Tomato Hornworms:
Tomato hornworms are voracious, munching entire leaves, small stems, and even parts of immature fruit. While they are most commonly associated with tomatoes, hornworms are also common pests of eggplants, peppers, and potatoes. Most likely, you'll notice the damage before you notice the hornworms, because their color helps them blend in so well with the plant foliage. You can also look for their black droppings on the foliage and around the base of the plant.
Undetected, a tomato hornworm can do a fair amount of damage to its host plant. They have hearty appetites, and can defoliate a plant in a matter of days. If they are detected and removed early, the plant will recover.
Organic Control: Because the hornworm is so large, the easiest and most effective way to get rid of it is to pick it off of plants as soon as you detect it and either squish it or toss it into a bowl of soapy water. A bad infestation can be treated by applying an insecticide containing spinosad. This is most effective when the larvae are small. If it is a problem year after year, try rototilling the soil either in late fall or in spring before you plant--this will either bury the pupae or destroy them. However, if you see a hornworm covered with white egg sacs, leave it be. The egg sacs are those of a parasitic wasp called the Braconid wasp. Let the eggs hatch, and you'll have an army of wasps ready to defend your garden against all types of pests.
Keep an eye out for the Bograda Bug
This bug attacks kale, cabbage and all members of the cabbage family of plants. It multiplies rapidly and the minute you find one you must take action to erradicate or control it.
We recommend Eight, an insecticide that can be used on veggies.
How to fill your shade garden without using impatiens...
Many gardeners regard impatiens as the perfect plant for a shady area, however I have heard reports that impatiens are doomed. They are certainly not as easy to obtain as in past years. The problem is that downy mildew is killing them off. Some garden centers on the East coast will not carry impatiens at all this year so it may be time to look for alternatives.
There are very few other plant that has all the wonderful traits of impatiens. Other plants do not have such a wide range of colors, do not bloom as long or are as cheap. You may have to get creative to fill the void.
It can be hard to find long-lasting, colorful flowers for the shade, so add color to your shady garden with plants that have colorful
leaves, such as the coleus. These plants can be grown in the ground as well as in containers and will continue to look showy until the dark and cold days of December.
Create interest with shape and textures, using plants such as ferns and caladium. Instead of relying on a large block of solid color, as you may have done in the past, with impatiens, use a variety of plants to add interest.
The New Guinea impatiens are great alternatives. New Guinea impatiens have flowers similar to the common impatiens and have a good range of color. Although they have similar names, this plant is different from impatiens walleriana, the plant that is being killed by downy mildew. New Guinea impatiens are not affected by the disease.
Caladium have leaves that are shaped like elephant’s ears, but the plants come in a wide range of colors. They can add a tropical feeling to your garden.
The bedding begonia is another colorful annual that comes in many colors, sizes and shapes. Many survive perfectly well over the winter in our climate (see perennial begonias below left).
The fuchsia is another shade plant with a big wow factor. It packs a punch, with dramatic, vibrant color. It can often be seen, growing in hanging baskets but can also be planted in the ground. It is perfect for coastal gardens as its leaves are not affected by salt in the air. It survives our winters well but gets a bit leggy and needs pruning before the spring.
Easy Reader's Best Garden Center four years in a row!
We are an established drop off point for the South Central Farmers Cooperative Community Supported Agriculture vegetable boxes.
The boxes are delivered to Deep Roots Garden Center every Wednesday at approximately 2.00 pm and we store them in our large flower cooler until closing time the following day.
Customers may order a box every week, every two weeks, once a month or simply when you feel like one. The boxes contain enough seasonal organic vegetables to feed a family of four for a week or a single/couple for two weeks.
The price for a regular box is $20 with a mini-box priced at $15. Payment is in advance – please place your order before noon on Mondays. Why not come in and order a box? Or you can phone 310-376-0567.
To find out what is in the box visit: