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Timely Tendings

Summer pours on chores in the garden

Everything grows rapidly during the summer, so check this list to keep your landscape looking good.

• Plant heat-loving summer annuals, such as celosia, marigolds, portulaca, vinca and narrow-leaf zinnias.

• Prune azaleas. This is your last chance this year. They can be cut back one-third to one-half.

• Put down a layer of organic mulch 2 to 3 inches deep around the plants to help conserve moisture and keep down weeds. Keep mulch 2 inches away from the base of plants.

• Prune new growth on poinsettias. Cut back new stems when they reach 12 inches. Prune only the new growth back to four leaves.

• Many people erroneously believe that plants should be pruned only once a year, and that no matter what condition the limbs are in, they should not be removed. Prune dead parts from shrubs, trees and herbaceous plants whenever they appear. Dead wood and dead stems are perfect entryways for disease and wood-eating insects.

• Wander through your landscape each week and look for signs of insects that damage the plants. Catching infestations early permits easy control. Also look for beneficial insects that control the pests. They may be taking care of the problem for you.

• If you do treat for pests, use the least toxic method first, and treat only where the pest is found. It is not usually necessary to treat the whole landscape. Always follow label directions.

Expansion by division

Once your daylilies finish blooming, they can be divided. Overcrowding often decreases the amount of bloom. When dividing daylilies, you can remove only a part of the clump to alleviate overcrowding, or perhaps you would like to rejuvenate the entire bed.

If that's your goal, remove all of the daylilies and place them in a shaded area. This is a good time to add organic matter to enrich the soil. Organic peat, compost, or composted animal manure (cow, horse, goat — not household pets) are all good sources of organic material.

For every 100 square feet of bed, add 25 pounds of organic matter and 2 1/2 pounds of 6-6-6 or similar slow-release fertilizer. This should all be worked into the soil.

Divide the large clump of daylilies into one or two fan clumps; use a knife or pruning shears to cut through the mass of roots. Space the plants about 10 inches apart when you replant them, making sure the crown is level with the soil line when doing so. Watering is important at this time. Keep the bed moist for the first week by watering every other day unless there is rain. The second week, water twice, then once a week or as needed.

Homegrown harvest

Citrus trees sometimes have a late bloom at this time of year. Many fruit trees that failed to fruit in early spring will be heavy with flowers, especially the navel orange. The new fruit will not, however, interfere with the earlier fruit. Late-bloom fruit are often dry and pithy, but there is always a chance they will be good, so most people choose to let them mature.

One variety of avocado or another ripens every month of the year, but the fruit's main season is from July through February. Avocados don't ripen on the tree. Mature fruit ripens three to eight days after it is picked. Florida avocados ripen best at temperatures of 60 to 75 degrees. At higher temperatures fruit can ripen unevenly and may develop an odd flavor. Storing them in the refrigerator delays ripening and lets you keep fruit longer.

If you want to keep your trees at a manageable height, prune soon after harvest. Severe pruning does not injure the tree if proper pruning cuts are made, but it will reduce production for one or more seasons.

Compiled by Pam Brown and Carol Suggs of the Pinellas County Extension Center/Florida Botanical Gardens. Questions? Call them at (727) 582-2100.

>> FAST FACTS

Mark your calendar

• Herb Gardening: 2 and 6 p.m. Wednesday, Community Hall, 517 Crystal Beach Ave., Crystal Beach. Free. Registration: (727) 582-2673. Master gardener will talk on herbs that grow well locally. Park in front of the hall or across the street.

• Florida Style Gardening: Florida-Friendly Landscape Series: 6:30 to 9 p.m. starting July 22, Pinellas County Extension, 12520 Ulmerton Road, Largo. $15 per class or $50 for series. Registration: (727) 582-2673. Series of classes offered on five Tuesday evenings: July 22 and 29, Aug. 19, and Sept. 9 and 23. Topics for the first two sessions: July 22, principles of Florida-friendly landscape design and maintenance, with garden tour. July 29, basics of irrigation; rain barrels available for purchase.

• Compost Happens: 10-11:30 a.m. July 26, Pinellas County Extension, 12520 Ulmerton Road, Largo. Free. Registration: (727) 582-2673. How to create a compost pile. Pinellas residents will receive a free plastic compost bin after completing a short survey.

Summer pours on chores in the garden 07/04/08 [Last modified: Monday, November 1, 2010 2:14pm]

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