Ensure mangoes are ripe before you pick them
If you're lucky enough to have a mango tree, leave the fruit on the tree to mature, otherwise it won't ripen properly. To check for maturity, pick a large one growing in the sun and cut through it lengthwise. The flesh around the seed should be turning yellow. Mangoes the same size or larger are probably also mature and can be picked to take indoors to ripen. It will take several days for them to sweeten up.
Try to spray when the sun don't shine
Avoid applying pesticides in the heat of the day. The heat can combine with some chemicals to burn your plants. Best time to apply: late afternoon to early evening on an overcast day when no rain is forecast. Avoid breezy days, when the chemicals can drift onto other plants or onto the gardener. Most pesticides are absorbed readily through the skin and allergic reactions may be delayed for several hours.
Get to know the trees you meet
The Arbor Day Foundation is offering a new, easier-to-use tree identification guidebook. What Tree Is That? offers advanced, hand-drawn botanical illustrations of distinctive characteristics of many tree species, in full color, with natural colors, shapes and textures. Send your name, address and $5 for each copy to What Tree Is That?, Arbor Day Foundation, Nebraska City, NE 68410. Or order online at www.arborday.org.
No welcome mat out for Bufo toads
Watch out for the poisonous Bufo toad, which is reappearing in our area now that the summer rains are here. The toads' venom can cause cardiac arrest in pets, leading to death in as little as 15 minutes. Bufos, also known as cane toads, giant toads or marine toads, are gray, brownish-gray, olive-brown, red-brown or yellowish and vary from 4 to 9 inches in length. Adults make dark, moist crevices in dry ground and like to eat pet food left outdoors.
Your garden can pose for a calendar
Your photo of your yard, garden, landscaping, trees, or a local park, sports field or golf course could find its way onto a fundraising calendar. Project EverGreen seeks amateur photographers' images for its 2009 Because Green Matters calendar. Visit projectevergreen.com to fill in an entry form and upload photos. Those whose photos are selected will receive a $100 gift certificate to a national gardening retailer. Project EverGreen is a nonprofit group that represents "green industry" service providers and suppliers, i.e., landscapers, lawn services, fertilizer and pest-control companies. Calendar sales benefit its outreach programs.
Compiled by Times Homes and Garden editor Judy Stark