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WHAT TO DO IN JUNE

These are just a few of our suggestions for Central Texas gardeners. Please come visit us at The Natural Gardener for the best, most comprehensive advice, plants and organic gardening supplies, all appropriate to our area and the current season.

SOW SEEDS
Vegetables: Black eyed Peas, Okra, Pumpkin, New Zealand Spinach, Malabar Spinach, Winter Squash.
Fruits: Cantaloupe, Honeydew, Watermelon.

Herbs: Anise, Basil, Bay, Catnip, Cumin, Germander, Horehound, Lamb's Ear, Lavender, Oregano, Perilla, Rosemary, Sage, Summer Savory, Winter Savory, Sorrel, Southernwood, Tansy, Tarragon, Thyme.

Annuals: Castor Bean, Celosia, Coleus, Cypress Vine, Four O’clocks, Gomphrena, Gourds, Hyacinth Bean Vine, Impatiens, Marigold, Moonflower Vine, Morning Glory Vine, Periwinkle, Sunflower, Tithonia, Zinnia.

PLANT
Vegetables: Black eyed Peas, Okra, Pumpkin, Malabar Spinach, New Zealand Spinach, Peppers, Sweet Potatoes, Winter Squash.
Fruits: Cantaloupe, Honeydew, Watermelon.

Herbs: Artemesias (Mugwort, Southernwood, Wormwood), Basil, Bay Laurel, Beebalm, Catnip, Catmint, Echinacea, Epazote, Lamb's Ear, Lavender, Lemon Balm, Lemon Verbena, Mexican Mint Marigold, Mints, Oregano, Pennyroyal, Rosemary, Sage, Winter Savory, Tansy, Thyme, Yarrow.

Annuals: Ageratum, Amaranthus (Joseph's Coat), Balsam, Begonia, Blue Daze, Celosia, Coleus, Copper Plant, Dusty Miller, Gazania, Geranium, Gomphrena, Impatiens, Marigold, Mexican Heather, Nierembergia, Penta, Periwinkle, Portulaca, Purslane, Torenia, Zinnia.

Perennials: Black-Eyed Susan, Butterfly Weed, Copper Canyon Daisy, Cupheas, Coreopsis, Shasta Daisy, Ox-Eye Daisy, Four-Nerve Daisy, Daylily, Echinacea/Coneflower, Eupatoriums (including Gregg's Mistflower), Frog Fruit, Gayfeather, Goldenrod, Horse Herb, Kniphofia, Lamb's Ears, Lantana, Plumbago, Ruellias, Salvias, Sedum.


Grasses: Maiden Grass, Bamboo Muhly, Gulf Coast Muhly, Big Muhly, Weeping Muhly, Mexican Feather Grass, Switchgrass, Inland Sea Oats (likes the shade!), Purple Fountain Grass.

FEED AND CULTIVATE
In Central Texas, our lawns can be fed three times a year. The first application is in March or April, a summer application should be made in June, and a winterizing application goes down in September or October. The best fertilizer to use for all three feedings is our own house brand fertilizer, Lady Bug 8-2-4. We don’t say it’s best simply because we make it ourselves. Texas A&M University and The City of Austin tested several fertilizers, both natural and synthetic, and Lady Bug 8-2-4 came out on top.

Continue spraying with seaweed, but remember to spray your plants, including your lawn, after sundown. Once temperatures reach 90° F, you should avoid spraying anything on plant leaves, even water, during the daytime.


PRUNE, SPRAY, MAINTAIN
Watering is the single most important activity in the garden, yet it’s the hardest one to get right. There are general guidelines based on plant type but the challenge lies in providing the right amount of water for your specific plant in its specific location. Your soil type, the age of the plant, the time of year, even the wind can affect how much water your plants need. In general, it’s best to water established plants deeply and less often, rather than shallowly and frequently. New transplants, seeds and seedlings may need daily watering, but in the case of larger plants, shallow watering leads to shallow, weak roots. Get to know your yard’s specific conditions, and water only as needed. Your finger is your best moisture meter. For most landscape plants and trees, it’s good to feel the soil about 5” down before watering. The best time to water is in the morning: daytime watering wastes too much precious water to evaporation, and wet leaves at night encourage fungal problems.

Mulch all bare soil areas. Use three inches of mulch wherever possible to get the benefits of weed suppression and moisture retention. In areas where there are stubborn weeds, get control first by pulling them or spraying Green Go natural weed killer. Then layer at least 10 sheets of newspaper on top of the soil, and wet them down. Be sure to overlap the edges by several inches to prevent those more sneaky weeds from creeping through. (Use black and white newsprint as colored inks can be toxic.) Then cover with mulch. The newspaper stays just long enough to suppress weeds, but decomposes, too. Understand that the most invasive weeds -- Bermuda grass, Johnson grass, and Nutgrass-- may still require even further pulling and spraying to maintain control.

Keep an eye on your lawn for chinch bug damage. The damage usually shows up in full sun areas (in hot, dry weather) as yellowing, then browning, irregular patches. Check the green areas next to the browning or yellowing areas for the tiny insects. Get a positive identification before treating with anything. See WHAT TO DO IN MAY for more info.

Minimize grasshopper damage.
 First, as often as possible and over as wide an area as possible, spread Nolo Bait. Nolo Bait is a wheat flake that has been spiked with a grasshopper disease, Nosema locustae. It doesn't harm any other critters except for Mormon crickets. When properly applied, the grasshoppers eat the Nolo and get sick. Tomorrow's grasshoppers cannibalize the sick ones, spreading the disease through the population. Nolo Bait is probably most recommended for homeowners with some acreage, unless whole blocks or neighborhoods in the city could get together for a concerted anti-grasshopper effort. Because of the grasshoppers' sheer numbers and mobility, Nolo Bait is most effective when used over larger areas.
 Second, for townsfolk, and as an added measure for country folk, there is a relatively new control called Kaolin clay. One to two cups of the powdered clay is mixed with a gallon of water with about a teaspoon of soap, such as a mild dishwashing soap or Dr. Bronner's soap (from health food stores). To make mixing easier, the Kaolin clay should be slowly added to a cup or two of water first to make a paste (with the soap), and then added to the rest of the gallon of water. This mixture should be sprayed onto all leaf surfaces. The object is to have a white film on the leaf that repels the grasshoppers. This may require more than one application, depending on the concentration of clay in the spray. Another spray-on recipe was given to us by a customer of ours. Mix one cup of diatomaceous earth with one gallon of water along with two tablespoons of blackstrap molasses. Spray this onto the plants. Diatomaceous earth looks like talcum powder, but to the insects it is like broken glass.
 The third route for control of grasshoppers is simply a physical barrier. For some people in summers past whose trees were stripped bare down to and including the bark, the last resort was simply using row cover to protect what was left. Row cover is a white, lightweight, spun fabric that is often used as frost protection for tender plants in the winter, but is also used as an insect barrier.

CONSIDER THIS
School's out!  Summer vacation is a great time to start gardening with your kids. Gardening can be good exercise and is a wonderful activity to share with your children. Weeding, watering, planting, and identifying insects and bugs in the garden help to educate and instill an enthusiasm in children for the natural world. The magic of seeing a big, beautiful sunflower or zinnia emerge from a tiny seed is enough to turn anyone into a lifelong gardener. For that matter, it's not too late to plant cantaloupe or watermelon. Melon seeds are large and easy to handle and most germinate within 7 to 10 days. It's such a treat to watch these melons gradually develop into big, sweet juicy fruit.  We have kids hand tools, hoes, rakes, gloves, watering cans, watering wands, books and more all the make your child's experience more enjoyable.

Consider investing in a really good garden hose and a long-handled water wand with a cut-off (so you can lay it down without wasting water.) Hand-watering is especially good for plants because it keeps you, the gardener, in touch with them on a regular basis. You get to see your plants up-close, at least once a day, to monitor for insects or changes in leaf color, etc.  Some gardeners find hand-watering to be a very relaxing activity, and it can be a great way to start or end your day. Remember, not to get water on plant leaves during the day when it’s above 90°F. See WHAT TO DO IN JULY for more info.

Do you keep the AC on most of the time? If so, you should have lots of plants in your house. Scientific studies have shown that plants actively clean indoor air and they can even help combat “sick building syndrome.” Studies have also shown that the presence of houseplants even improves our mood. They’re pretty, and they make us healthier and happier. Hurray for houseplants!

Mosquitoes are a nuisance to be sure, but they can also spread disease to both us and our pets. (They cause heartworms in dogs and cats.) Mosquitoes can breed in as little as 1/5 teaspoon of water, so be sure to patrol your yard on a regular basis for standing water. In wet/dry areas, like AC drip tubes, sprinkle the area with Mosquito Bits. In areas of standing water, like bird baths or ponds, use Mosquito Dunks. The dunks and bits contain a non-toxic, all natural ingredient that keeps mosquito larva from turning into adults. Pheromone-based traps are another very effective mosquito control. Place a trap at the edge of your yard and you’ll be amazed at the number of mosquitoes it catches. An easy way to keep mosquitoes and other annoying pests out of your yard is to sprinkle a granular repellant over the entire yard. There are several very good all natural repellents made from botanical oils.


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