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GARDEN FANATIC: Prepare for weather

The anticipation of an early summer has yet to be realized, though May is waning. But with daytime temperatures currently hovering below 70 degrees and the humidity thick at 90%, flowering plants are obliged to continue their brilliant display of spring blooms throughout Laguna, village of eternal springtime.

The sustained overcast weather offers a challenge for Catharine and her tomato. The inconsistent sunlight has encouraged both mildew and fungus gnats. Ever horticulturally resourceful, Catharine waters to maintain an even level of soil moisture, rather than on a time schedule. Her wise strategy minimizes the outbreak of diseases and insects.

Pest sightings are likely during our waiting for the sun. Snails, whitefly and powdery mildew are lurking just outside your garden gate. Be vigilant and practice good cultural practices to keep pesticide use to a minimum.

If you missed out on the city’s mulch giveaway a few weeks ago, your gardening list should begin with mulching everything, including annuals, perennials and trees this weekend. The practice will help to conserve moisture and reduce water consumption. A topping of mulch will also discourage weeds and help keep roots cool.


Roses should be fed with a balanced fertilizer monthly. Miracle Gro for Roses is an excellent product. This is particularly important after a flower crop ends. Soak the soil thoroughly following application. Annuals, perennials and vegetables will also benefit from regular applications of fertilizer through autumn.

Many potted plants, such as fuchsia, tuberous begonias and other shade plants, will be peaking soon. Provide plenty of moisture and light shade. Monitor plants in containers carefully; don’t allow them to dry out.

Pruning should be completed carefully, mainly to maintain space for your plant and yourself. It is OK to pinch back leggy growth on annuals and perennials to make plants more attractive. Don’t forget to deadhead “spent” flowers on all of your plants!

With summer-like weather a possibility, raise the lawn mower so the grass is cut higher. Water deeply and as infrequently as possible to encourage deeper root growth. Fertilizer should be applied monthly during the growing season; your favorite nursery can assist you with just the right product for your specific type of grass. Judicious use of herbicides can help control weeds and crab grass.


Somewhere in late May, not so further south, the sun is shining, palm trees are swaying and the surf is up. The weather is warm and the stars are plentiful at night. Seems like Laguna, village of eternal summertime, during August.

See you next time.

STEVE KAWARATANI is married to writer Catharine Cooper and has one cat and four dogs. He can be reached at (949) 497-8168, or by e-mail at