Caring for your Trees & Shrubs This Summer

Be sure to keep trees and shrubs mulched and watered through the summer months. Organic mulches are better than gravel or rubber mulches, since the organic types encourage beneficial micro-organisms in the root zone, and they don’t heat up as much. If you’ve had problems with shotgun/artillery fungus, try using pine bark mulch (i.e., nuggets) or cypress mulch, rather than finely-ground hardwood mulches. Mulch should be 2-3” deep (more would cut off oxygen to the roots), applied out as far as possible, since the lawn grass is an enemy to the tree, competing for the same water and nutrients. Never let the mulch touch the trunk of the tree, or it can cause trunk decay and vole damage to the bark. Continue reading

Growing Great Cut Flowers

A fresh cut bouquet of flowers can brighten any room and elicit happiness for any who see it. But as wonderful as these arrangements are, they are even more rewarding when you grow your own! While this may seem like a daunting task to those without much of a green thumb, there are plenty of flowers which grow well in our climate and can be very forgiving to new growers. Some of my personal favorites are zinnias, cosmos, and celosia (also known as cock’s comb). These three varieties are available in endless amounts of colors and zinnias and cosmos are known to bloom all summer long. Continue reading

Controlling Tomato Diseases

Nothing can ruin a mouthwatering tomato more than reaching for one on the vine only to find an ugly, flattened spot on it. If the ugly spot is located on the fruit opposite the stem end, it is likely blossom end rot, a disease caused by a lack of calcium that commonly occurs in tomatoes but can also affect eggplant, peppers and many cucurbits. Continue reading