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May: your Northern California guide.

To-do list

* Grow low-water bloomers, such as agastache, penstemon, sticky monkey flower, and yarrow.

* Prevent powdery mildew by spraying the foliage of susceptible plants (including dahlias, roses, and squash) with an organic insecticidal soap.

* To conserve water in container gardens, choose unthirsty plants like succulents and grow them in large pots, which need less frequent watering than small ones.

* Sow seeds of beans, corn, cucumbers, and squash when evening temperatures stay above 50[degrees].

* Thin apples, Asian pears, nectarines, and peaches to allow 4 to 6 inches between fruit.

SUNSET CLIMATE ZONES 7-9, 14-17

* Sow seeds of salad greens, like arugula and leaf lettuce, every two weeks until daytime temperatures reach 75[degrees].

* Strip aphids from plants by hand, or dislodge them with a blast or two from the hose. -JOHANNA SILVER

TECHNIQUE

CHECK DRIP SYSTEMS

Make sure they're working property and not wasting water.

1 | Remove caps from the main lines and flush lines.

2 | Replace caps, turn on the water, and repair or replace any leaky tubing.

3 | Flush sediment from filters and clean algae from screens.

4 | Replace any emitters that are clogged. You may also need to add emitters if plants have grown significantly since the system was installed. Find supplies at your local nursery or home improvement center, or order from the Urban Farmer Store (urbanfarmerstore.com).

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MUST-HAVE

New summer bloomer

Meet Supertunia White Russian, a petunia like no other. Its creamy white flowers with dark chocolate veins are sophisticated, a tad moody, and so very seductive. Plant in full sun and water regularly. It's stunning in pots, mixed with a dark purple sweet potato vine. Buy from Proven Winners (provenwinriers.com).

IDEA WE LOVE

BRIGHTEN UP

Packed with vivid colors, this low-water display at Sunset's Menlo Park headquarters adds life to an otherwise empty corner. In a raised bed edged with stacked stone, blue-gray aloe rises above similarly hued Senecio mandraliscae, a groundcover that will trail over the wall. Chartreuse New Zealand flax and smoke tree (Cotinus 'Golden Spirit') add a yellow glow at either end, while pink-flowered rock-rose 'Victor Reiter' and wispy restio (Cannomois virgata) soften the other plants' spiky forms. -J.S.

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Title Annotation:Garden checklist
Publication:Sunset
Geographic Code:1U9CA
Date:May 1, 2012
Words:366
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