Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

May, 2005
Regional Report

Destroy Leaves Afflicted With Peach Leaf Curl

Carefully collect and destroy all leaves affected by peach leaf curl or other diseases. Don\'t compost these leaves or use them as mulch, as this will spread the disease.

Water Deeply

The watering method you begin now will help or hinder your plants\' abilities to thrive -- not just survive -- during the extended heat of summer. Water just as deeply, but less frequently, to teach roots to grow deeply for their moisture. This way, deep roots will thrive during weeks-on-end of 90+ temperatures, instead of your having to be out there in the heat, watering every other day or so.

Attract Bees and Butterflies

Encourage bees and butterflies to visit your garden for better pollination. They'll come more readily if you provide their favorite plants. Bees love basil, borage, calendulas, catnip, hyssop, lemon balm, mint, summer savory, thyme, and other plants with blue flowers. Butterflies prefer asters, lantanas, buddleias (butterfly bush), marigolds, sweet Williams, tithonias (Mexican sunflower), zinnias, and other daisy-like flowers.

Maintain Thick Mulch

Maintain a good mulch of organic matter covering garden soil throughout the summer. This prevents crusting and cracking of the soil surface, holds in moisture, encourages earthworms, moderates soil temperatures for optimum root growth, improves the soil as it decomposes, and prevents weeds from germinating. A 2- to 4-inch layer of mulch decreases evaporation from the soil by 70 percent or more, allowing you to water less often (but still deeply). Keep mulch several inches away from tree trunks and plant stems, however, for good air circulation.

Love Your Lawn

Mow lawns once or twice a week. Set mower blade height to between 2 and 3 inches. Don't cut off more than 25 percent of new growth at a time or the grass plants won't have enough green portion of the blades to grow well. Keep the lawn fertilized with a slow-release fertilizer just enough to grow well but not so much it stimulates lots of lush, water-demanding growth that'll keep you mowing! Begin to change lawn watering patterns from every several days to only once a week or every ten days. Let the grass tell you when it needs to be watered; it'll wilt slightly and turn from bright green to dull green. Continue to water deeply to thoroughly moisten the soil down to the bottom root tips (6 to 12 inches deep). This will allow the surface of the soil to dry between waterings and encourage deep rooting, so the lawn is healthier and can go longer between waterings. Diseases develop when grass blades and the soil surface are constantly wet, especially when the weather's warm.

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