Southern California Checklist

What to do in your garden in June
Sharon Cohoon

PLANTING

Culinary herbs. Set out seedlings of basil, chervil, chives, lemon grass, marjoram, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, savory, tarragon, and thyme.

Shade plants. The soil near north- and east-facing walls is now warm enough to get plants off to a good start. For color, consider abutilon, begonias, Brunfelsia, clivia, fuchsias, hydrangea, and Japanese anemone. For plants grown mostly for their foliage, consider variegated varieties of aucuba, glechoma, lamium, and pittosporum. Or plant 'Amber Waves' heuchera, a golden-leafed coral bells that thrives in shade. Use it to light up a dark corner of your garden.

Summer produce. Set out seedlings of cucumbers, eggplant, melons, peppers, squash, and tomatoes. Sow seeds of beans, corn, cucumbers, okra, pumpkins, and summer and winter squash. In the high desert ( Sunset climate zone 11), sow seeds of corn, cucumbers, melons, and squash. A good mail-order source for unusual varieties of these vegetables is Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds (417/924-8917).

Summer vines. Plant a quick-growing annual from seed, such as moonflower, morning glory, scarlet runner bean, or Spanish flag. For more unusual kinds, order from Seed Savers Exchange (563/382-5990), which carries a white cypress vine and 'Sunrise Serenade' morning glory, a ruby red double-flowered variety.

MAINTENANCE

Feed plants. Roses, warm-season lawns, annual flowers and vegetables, and just about everything else that's actively growing will benefit from fertilizing now. Don't forget that houseplants need occasional feeding as well.

Stake tomatoes. For easy picking and to prevent fruit rot, support tomato plants with a cage, trellis, or stakes. As plants grow, tie vines loosely to supports.

Start bromeliads from offshoots. Bromeliads usually produce pups during the summer. When these offshoots reach one-third to half the size of the mother plant, you can cut them off at the base to start new plants. Place the pup in shade for a day or two until its base forms a callus, then repot it in a fast-draining medium such as orchid mix.

Treat iron deficiencies. If leaves of citrus, gardenias, and other susceptible plants are yellow with green veins, they lack iron. To treat, apply chelated iron as a soil drench or foliar spray.

PESTS AND DISEASES

Blossom-end rot. If dark brown sunken areas develop on the bottom of tomatoes, suspect inadequate calcium uptake, usually caused by uneven watering. To prevent this disease, irrigate plants thoroughly and consistently; mulch well. Also avoid high-nitrogen fertilizers. If the disease persists, try spraying foliage with seaweed extract to supply some calcium directly to the leaves.

Fruit-eating birds. The surest way to protect your crop is to enclose trees with broad-mesh netting several weeks before fruit matures.

Powdery mildew. Combat this fungus that plagues roses, cucumbers, melons, and squash during "June Gloom" by hosing off foliage in the morning to remove spores.