Garden Tips | July 5, 2013 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Real Estate - July 5, 2013

Garden Tips

Foil pests, plant veggies in July

by Jack McKinnon

July is typically hot inland and cool on the coast with occasional spectacular days on the coast and overcast days in the valley. Gardening is basically the same in either climate except for watering needs.

Learn when your plants are just about to start wilting. They usually start looking a little dull just before. Water before they look dull and they will grow vigorously without suffering the ups and downs of irregular watering. This is pretty advanced stuff but will transform your gardening.

This month's tips will give you plenty to do. Remember to make some iced tea and relax out there too.

Here are the tips:

1. Foil pests by physically removing the majority of them. You can wash them off with a stream of plain water, brush them off, squish them between your fingers or get something to eat them. It does not matter to the plant how you do it. The bottom line is to get the bugs off.

2. Fall vegetables go in now. Plant root crops and cabbage family plants. Peas and spinach can be planted from seed or six-packs when they arrive in the nursery. Root crops are carrots, beets, turnips, radishes and all the different varieties of the above. Cabbage family plants are broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage both red and green and kale.

3. Dead-head fuchsias and feed regularly. Follow the instructions on your fertilizer package. A good bloom fertilizer will keep them looking good through the summer.

4. If you have rocky soil, build walls. This old axiom goes for many different so-called problems in people's gardens. A renowned illustrator of children's books would catch mice that were invading her house, draw them and then release them where they would not do her any harm.

5. Plant ornamental grasses when it is too hot to plant anything else. They are quite hardy and with reasonable watering, they can withstand summer transplanting.

6. Write a garden experience you think might be memorable. I am taking a memoir-writing workshop and it is amazing how many anecdotal stories I can come up with about the 40+ years I have been gardening.

7. Learn about plant propagation. There are so many different ways to reproduce a favorite plant. The varieties of seeds available through local nurseries and catalogs are enormous.

8. Plant summer annuals for fall color. You can get plants in bloom now that will continue until the rains knock them down.

9. Get on a garden tips email list. You will receive garden tips, products to buy, stories and many resources. Search websites, blogs, social sites, magazine ads and growers for a constant stream of ideas, sales, workshops and classes.

10. Prune spring-flowering spirea, breath of heaven, jasmine, clematis, wisteria and New Zealand tea when they finish blooming. This will stimulate new growth and get that pruning task out of the way.

Good gardening.

Garden coach Jack McKinnon can be reached at 650-455-0687 (cell), by email at Visit his website at


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