by John Bagnasco

At last! May is here and gardening is in full swing.

While weeding alone could take up all your time, here are a few ideas of chores that will produce benefits down the road.

  1. Plant the hot, new summer annuals: Alyssum, Amaranthus, Celosia, Dahlia, Gloriosa Daisy, Lobelia, Marigold, Nierembergia, Petunia, Phlox, Portulaca, Salvia, Sunflowers, Verbena, Vinca and Zinnia
  2. Time to plant summer vegetables: Beans, Chayote, Eggplant, Melons, New Zealand Spinach, Peppers, Pumpkins, Squash, Sunflowers, and Tomatoes. Grow delicacies like French ‘Charentais’ melon, ‘Sun Sugar’ tomato, ‘Rosa Bianca’ eggplant or triplesweet ‘Honey Select’ sweet corn.
  3.  Capture children’s imagination with Sunzillas! These giant sunflowers beanstalk their way to 14' – 16’. Very few other seeds catch a child's attention quicker than these golden orbs that seem to register daily growth. Huge heads of plump seeds are a bonus for snacks or an instant birdfeeder. Available from Renee’s Garden Seeds.
  4. Fertilize Camellias and Azaleas when they have finished blooming with Cottonseed Meal. Apply 3 inches of mulch around Camellias and Azaleas to reduce summer moisture stress, but keep mulch off stem and trunk of plant.
  5. If needed, divide and re-plant Cymbidium Orchids just after blooming. Transplant those that have out-grown their containers no later than June in order to ensure the next flowering cycle. Keep them in semi-shade now through mid-summer.
  6. Spray Florel on Olive trees and Liquidambar when in bloom to prevent fruit formation. Halting formation of olives basically eliminates driveway and patio staining from fruit drop.
  7. Harpin (under the tradename Axiom) is one of a class of proteins produced in nature by certain bacterial plant pathogens. It elicits a complex natural defense mechanism in plants, analogous to a broad spectrum immune response in animals. While most pesticides act directly on the target pest, Harpin, by contrast, elicits a protective response in the plant that makes it resistant to a wide range of fungal, bacterial, and viral diseases.
  8. Check timers on lawns. Be sure they are set for morning hours and every third day to conserve water.