June chores in your Florida garden

I'm using one of my small garden beds for herbs. I've planted favorites including sage, thyme, dill, lavender, basil, marjoram and, for the first time, stevia (an impulse purchase).

Searching for information on the Internet, I found stevia is a finicky plant, and a couple of websites state that it doesn't like hot weather. Sounds like I should have researched the plant before purchasing it. Stevia likes sandy soil (got that) and prefers moist soil (I'll try to remember). I'll let you know how it goes this summer.

There are no particular plans to use the stevia, but perhaps if it grows well the leaves can add flavor to tea.

This is a good time to transplant if you have the ability to keep plants watered until the rains start. I continue renovating a number of beds in the back yard because of winter kill. I transplanted three small crape myrtles and have faith they will thrive if cared for properly.

Also transplanted were a couple of ground covers and African iris. If you have plants to move around your yard or get some from a gardening friend, you can save money while renovating or just expanding your plant collection.

It doesn't seem possible, but it's June. Take a few minutes to get your chores lined up and make a list of what you'll need to do this month.

Fertilize citrus trees if not done in May. Mature trees (planted three years or more) should receive 1 pound of fertilizer per year of age. Use a citrus special fertilizer or a balanced fertilizer containing magnesium and micronutrients. The amount should never exceed 10 pounds. Fertilize young trees (under 3 years of age) every six months, 1 pound per application.

Correct palm deficiencies. Palms may develop manganese deficiencies. Look for yellow, brown, or distorted growth on emerging leaves. Foliar sprays of manganese sulfate (not to be confused with magnesium sulfate) at a rate of 1 teaspoon per gallon of water along with 1 pound of manganese sulfate applied to soil will correct this deficiency on the next flush of growth.

Start cuttings. Take 4- to 6-inch cuttings of tip growth. Dip cut ends in rooting hormone and stick cuttings in a sterile soil mix. Water and cover soil and cuttings with a clear plastic bag. Place in strong, indirect light. Be brave. Try everything in your garden. You might be surprised with your successes.

Irrigate according to the needs of plants. This is a good time to understand how little supplemental water some plants need to survive.

Inspect lawns for insect pests. Mix 1 fluid ounce of dishwashing liquid in a 2-gallon sprinkling can of water and drench 4 square feet of lawn with this solution. Observe for two minutes. Pests move to the grass surface. If you have pests, treat accordingly. Spot-treat affected areas with insecticides labeled for chinch bugs. To protect beneficial insects which feed on chinch bugs, spot treat affected areas and a 10-foot buffer around them rather than spraying the entire lawn.

Prune judiciously. Light pruning may be necessary to shape plants and encourage branching. Never remove more than one-third of the plant's foliage at a time.

Spray roses to control black spot disease. Symptoms of this disease are dark, round spots with yellow halos. Use a fungicide labeled for treatment of black spot on roses, following directions carefully.

Transplant palm trees. Palm roots grow when the soil is moist and warm so palm establishment is most successful during summer. Never allow soil to dry out during the first several months. Apply 3 to 4 inches of mulch.

Mow grass frequently. Mow often enough so that no more than one-third of the blade is removed per mowing. Leave clippings on the lawn to recycle nutrients or use collected clippings as mulch or compost material.

Concentrate on the above areas of your garden to keep it in shape. Also, continue to keep the weeds under control. They seem to have no problem thriving in this hot, dry weather. Visit your garden daily to see what needs to be done. This way the chores won't get to be overwhelming.

Mary Collister can be reached at hillsnews@sptimes.com.

June chores in your Florida garden 06/03/10 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 5:54pm]

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