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A few magical tips for gardening

I am a ’50s child (in more than one way), born and raised in Laguna. I love our country and hold a lot of affection for Uncle Sam. Not only did he persuade me to purchase savings bonds, he was a special influence when I was younger, third only to Santa Claus and my father.

Speaking of gifts, summer has dropped in again, with our gardens enjoying at least afternoon sunlight. The wise gardener will keep her/his planting happy with deep watering. With hose in hand, it’s also possible to wash away the whitefly and thrips. Read on, and let’s get back to the garden with the Plant Man.

Q. I have holes in my flower garden. What should I plant?

A. A list of hardy summer annuals begins with petunia, vinca and marigold. Warmer weather would allow you to plant zinnia, verbena, gloriosa daisy, coreopsis, ageratum, nicotiana and dahlia.


Q. How can I keep cats out of my garden?

A. Why would you want to? Our feline friends do little damage to a garden; however, they can sometimes be deadly to birds. Don’t forget that cats control rodents and rabbits.

Q. Is there danger of breeding insects and fungus in my compost pile?

A. There is a chance, so it is prudent to dispose of infested or diseased plant material in the trash rather than the compost pile.


Q. Should I prune my tomato plants?

A. No. As long as the tomato plant is well fertilized and watered, there is no need to prune. The side shoots help to protect the fruit from sunscald.

Q. Does the type of fertilizer affect the taste of fruits or vegetables?

A. I was taught no; however, my experience has proven that poor soil fertility will affect the flavor of fruiting vegetables.

Q. Can you tell me about the magic formula of baking soda that wipes out mildew on roses?

A. It is almost magical the way 1 ½ tablespoons of baking soda, ½ tablespoon of Ultra-fine horticultural oil, and one gallon of water will eradicate powdery mildew. Repeat the spray at intervals of 7 to 10 days if mildew reappears.

Q. What should I feed my sago palm?

A. My father always recommended using blood meal. It releases nutrients to the plant evenly and slowly. !


Catharine and I always look forward to the Fourth of July. A few days off and the pleasure of watching the city’s spectacular fireworks. We’ll toast America on her birthday and call upon ourselves to steadfastly support freedom and peace in Laguna and beyond. See you next time.

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