Things to do this week:
* Finish up planting. Quickly plant any summer bedding plants or perennials, so they can be established before July's persistent heat hits. Portulaca, verbena, vinca rosea, and zinnia are the hot weather champs in bedding plants, but for summer splash you can also plant ageratum, amaranthus, balsam, celosia, bedding dahlia, gaillardia, gazania, gloriosa daisy, lobelia, marigold, million bells, nierembergia, petunia and bedding salvia.
You can take your time planting flowers for shady areas, such as bedding begonia, forget-me-not, caladiums, coleus, mimulus, torenia and impatiens.
* Renew mulch. To prevent the soil from cracking and drying this summer, cover with a light mulch of tree chippings, shredded bark (not chunky bark), leaves or homemade compost. Mulches also save some water, moderate soil temperatures, keep down dust and prevent mud.
Next best is to lightly cultivate the soil surface between irrigations, which makes it easier for water to soak in and helps keep soil from cracking. Old-timers call this a "dust mulch."
* Check tomatoes. Those fat green tomato hornworms--that can strip whole branches of leaves--are almost invisible, but here's a neat trick suggested by the Los Angeles Common Ground Program. Lightly sprinkle the plants with water and the worms will wiggle, trying to shake it off. Once you spot them, you'll have to hand-pick them, or get one of your kids to do it if you are squeamish!