July, 2012
Regional Report

Practice Preventive Pest Control

We've noticed a few Japanese beetles around the roses. To repel them, we're spraying with Neem oil before they come in droves and defoliate roses, hibiscus and other favorite foliage targets. Japanese beetles emit pheromones that attract other Japanese beetles to a feeding site. Best to stop them ASAP.

Apply Least Toxic Mildew and Fungus Control

Neem oil, baking soda in diluted horticultural oil, biological fungicides are optional, safe treatments to control fungi (including mildew) on roses, lilacs, phlox, coreopsis and other shrubs and perennials. They are approved by the OMRI (Organic Materials Review Institute) for use (with time restrictions) on food crops.

Make Watering Newly Planted Trees a Priority

A browning lawn, we quickly water. Wilting annuals catch our eye so we water them at a moment's notice. Established and newly planted trees often escape notice in drought conditions. They need water too -- frequent long, deep waterings to keep them healthy through environmental stress. A general rule of thumb is approximately 10 gallons of water per inch of trunk diameter at knee height per watering. Tree Diameter x 5 minutes to produce 10 gals = Total Watering Time. A 4-inch diameter tree needs 40 gallons of water X 5 minutes = 20 minutes total watering time. Trees are expensive, long-term investments -- costly to remove, to buy, to plant. Compare that $$$ to the price of a bag of lawn seed.

Enjoy Herbs Fresh

I'm surprised when people ask how to dry basil. I shouldn't be. We've grown accustomed to seeing dried herbs in plastic bottles on the grocery shelf. Many think that's the best way to use them. Not so!!! Enjoy clipping and using mint, basil, rosemary, thyme, tarragon, oregano, cilantro, parsley, chives, sage fresh from the garden.

Make an Easy Birdbath

If you're on a budget (like me) and concerned that birds and butterflies need a source of water in this drought, here's an easy fix. Find a partly shady, somewhat open spot at your garden's edge. Turn a large terracotta pot upside down. Put a large, two- or three-inch- deep plastic or terracotta saucer on top. Keep filled with fresh water. It's temporary, yes. Might inspire a more permanent birdbath though.

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