June traditionally brings sunny hot dry days and cool nights. We'll see growth spurts on trees, perennials and in the vegetable garden. Now is the time to make sure that a drip irritation system is installed and operating well. Adjust emitters so each plant gets just the amount of water it needs, no more, no less. Trees benefit much more from long, deep soaks spaced at regular intervals (1 to 2 weeks), than from frequent shallow watering.
Old-timers say June first is the best time to plant all the heat-loving vegetables plants such as tomatoes peppers, summer squash, eggplant, cucumbers and melons. Seeds for okra, pumpkin and winter squash can go in the ground now, too. Summer blooming flowers such as marigolds, zinnias, cockscomb, and salvia are good choices for color in the sun.
Bird netting will help protect berries and other small fruit as it ripens. Pinch off grasshoppers, caterpillars and slugs and snails as you see them to prevent an infestation later. Thin fruit, if necessary, for better size production and to protect the tree from weight stress. Watch for spider mites and aphids, and if discovered, try hosing off the plant with a strong shower of water. Watch for: stress on pines and signs of the ips beetle; apples for the coddling moth; and thrips on members of the rose family. As pesticide treatments are often required to solve these problems, it is best to contact professional nursery people.
If fertilizing hasn't been done by now, don't wait. Dig in well-rotted compost around the base of each plant out to the drip line, or apply a good 10-10-10 all-purpose fertilizer according to package directions.
The best way to raise healthy plants and save water is to mulch. Three inches of any organic material will do. Try pine needles, oak leaves, shredded newspaper, forest mulch from the nursery, or layers of all of the above. Plants will benefit because the mulch will discourage weeds, keep roots cool and hold in moisture.
About 200 people visited six gardens in Pine and Payson last week during the Rim Area Gardeners' Spring Garden Tour. Although each garden was designed and planted by professional landscapers, the personality and taste of each homeowner was evident. Visitors enjoyed learning about a wide variety of plants, drip systems, rock walls, and gardens intermingled with native trees and shrubs.
Garden clubs offer a wonderful opportunity to socialize and learn more about gardening in our area. The Rim Area Gardeners meet at 7 p.m. the second Monday of each month at Manzanita Manor on Longhorn Road. The High Country Garden Club meets at 7 p.m. on the first Thursday of each month at First Southern Baptist Church on the corner of Colcord and Bonita.