Reducing water usage in July does not mean you cannot have lush and abundant flower and vegetable gardens. Simple steps will cut summer water bills but will not affect summer gardens, say experts at Agromin, an Oxnard-based manufacturer of earth-friendly soil products made from recycled organic material from over 50 Southern California communities.
Time Your Watering: Automatic sprinklers allow hassle-free early morning watering. Set sprinkler timers between 4:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. so water will not evaporate by the summer sun. Water should soak six to eight inches into the soil. Do not water at night to reduce the chances of mildew and other diseases. Use drip irrigation, soaker hoses or other water-conserving methods around plants, borders, shrubs and trees. Water, at most, two or three times a week for 10 minutes per watering.
Water Your Lawn Less: A lawn can do well during the summer months when only watered every three days. Lawns watered daily but for short periods will turn brown because roots remain close to the surface and are subject to quick water evaporation and summer heat. By watering your lawn every three days for 20 minutes, water is slow to evaporate as it soaks into the soil, causing roots to naturally grow deeper into the ground and away from the sun.
Reduce Your Lawn Size, Plant Low Water-Use Vegetation: Consider removing three to five feet of your lawn around its edges and replace it with a border of native ground cover. Native plants usually require little or no water once they are established. Check with your local nursery for native plants in your area. California native ground covers include Manzanita, California Lilac, deer grass, Island Alum Root and sage.
Replenish Mulch: Mulch, usually made from recycled trees and other wood materials, naturally thins over time. Ideally, a three-inch layer should surround plants and trees. When the mulch compresses to about two inches, add another layer. Mulch is a water saver. It keeps roots cool during the heat of the day and reduces moisture loss after watering. Mulch also reduces soil erosion, which is critical on hillsides and slopes. As an added bonus, a thick layer of mulch will suppress weed growth.
Vegetable Gardening Note: By July, gardens should be producing an abundance of tomatoes, peppers and zucchini. Pick the vegetables even if you don't plan to use them immediately. Keeping vegetables on the plant past their prime will inhibit further blossoming and production. Harvest vegetables every day during the summer. Particularly fast-growing vegetables to watch include beans, cucumbers, eggplant, squash and tomatoes. Also, check herb plants for signs of flowering. Nip flowers quickly to encourage leaf growth.
Not Too Late to Plant Summer Gardens: Gardening procrastinators still have time to plant a vegetable garden in July and enjoy their harvest by late summer and early fall. Vegetables to plant in July include beans, beets, carrots, corn, cantaloupe, okra, squash and spinach. Flowers such as gladiolus, calla lilies, marigolds, zinnias and dahlias can also be planted in July.
For more gardening tips, go to www.agromin.com.
Agromin manufactures earth-friendly soil products for farmers, landscapers and consumers. Agromin is also the green materials recycler for over 50 Southern California communities. Each month, Agromin receives thousands of tons of organic material and then uses a safe, natural and sustainable process to recycle the material into its soil products. The results are more vigorous and healthier plants and gardens, and on the conservation side, the opportunity to close the recycling loop, allow for more room in landfills and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
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