Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

May, 2006
Regional Report

Plant Colorful Annuals

Go ahead and plant now, it may never stop raining. Buy cheerful summer annuals and plant them in containers to add color to a winter-weary garden. My eyes long for the orange of marigolds.

Treat For Fungus Disease

Watch for signs of fungus disease on shrubs and perennials. All this wet weather will take a toll on the garden. Improve air circulation by pruning dense shrubs, or spray with a baking soda-based fungicide to control. Fungus disease can usually be identified by the center spot or doughnut shape. Raphiolepis is particularly susceptible to fungus this year. Treat with sulfur powder and keep the fallen leaves raked up.

Release Ladybugs

Purchase and release ladybugs to control aphids on artichokes and roses. Remember to water your garden well prior to releasing the insects. The ladybugs are very thirsty from traveling in that container for so long. Once they have a drink, they will be very hungry and begin almost immediately to take care of your aphid problem. Dusk and dawn are the best times to release the insects so that hungry birds don't snatch them up.

Plant Summer-Blooming Bulbs

Although it's just a little late, plant summer-blooming bulbs, such as dahlias, daylilies, begonias, tigridias, and Oriental and Asiatic lilies. Choose a sunny location, and mix some organic compost and superphosphate into the planting holes. Summer-blooming bulbs are a carefree and inexpensive way to add color to your garden beds.

Keep Mowers Fungus-Free

Wash lawn mowers with bleach to prevent the spread of fungus disease. Each time you mow, wash the underhousing of your lawn mower with fresh water, then spray with a 10 percent bleach solution to kill any lingering fungus spores. Let the best man win!

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