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SoCal Gardening | Around the Yard

Things to do this week:

July 01, 1999|ROBERT SMAUS

* Ready or not. Summer is upon us, and it's important to keep a watchful eye on the garden, although it appears--at least near the coast--that this may be a cooler-than-usual summer. Be careful not to over-water, which brings on rot and diseases, but also watch for dry spots. Keep soil mulched or cultivated, keep after fast-growing spurge and other summer weeds before they set seed, and don't fertilize much or at all. Summer feeding is generally unnecessary except on roses and a few other heavy users. On plants where you've seen summer caterpillar damage before, spray with the biological control Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis).

* Fruitless in the Southland. With bees getting a little scarce, the University of California Common Ground program suggests hand pollinating the flowers on your tomatoes to ensure quantities of fruit. Do this by flicking the flowers with your fingers. Bumblebees, the best tomato pollinators, do something similar with their vibrating wing action.

* Summertime blues. There's nothing like blue flowers to cool a summer scene. Most called "blue" actually are shades of lavender or purple. In annuals, browallia is a good blue, but lobelia is easier to find and some are nearly as blue, as are some ageratums. In perennials, 'Butterfly Blue' scabiosa blooms most of the summer as do several salvias, including the truly blue S. uliginosa and S. chamaedryoides. In shade, try an East Coast bleeding heart relative named Corydalis 'China Blue' that is just becoming available. Despite its heritage, the plant does well here--especially in pots--and it's an almost ghostly shade of baby blue.

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