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STAYING IN > GARDENING.

Byline: >Jack Christensen

Here are five things to do in your garden this weekend.

1. Water

Keep grape vines irrigated regularly and deep-watered to ensure uniform maturation and ripening of fruit. If birds generally get to your grapes before you do, try this: Put a paper bag (not plastic) around each grape cluster. Staple it at the top. The grapes will sweeten and ripen properly for you, not them. You'll just need to peek every once in a while to see exactly when they are ripe - unless you want raisins in the fall.

2. Mulch

If you haven't already done so, spread three to five inches of mulch around perennials and shrubbery. Mulch helps soil retain moisture, allowing more even feeding for plants and better endurance and performance during hot weather. It also reduces the incidence of diseases and acts as a weed barrier. Any mulch that does not contain redwood is ideal for roses and most other plants.

3. Soak

Irrigate your garden and landscape early in the morning (never midday or evening), and allow water to run long enough to soak in deeply. Plants use the most water, not only when temperatures are high, but also whenever a breeze blows, or during flowering, or as fruit gets close to maturation. Containerized plants usually need more water than those in the ground. Some plants may need irrigating two or three times a week now.

4. Propagate

To start new plants from a favorite perennial, such as a geranium, impatiens, lilac, rose, or tomato, make a cut halfway through the underside of a long, low-growing stem, dust the cut with rooting hormone (such as Rootone), then bury it several inches deep. Allow the leafy end, a foot or so beyond the cut, to stick out and continue growing. During the summer and fall, many types of plants will form roots along the cut. Newly rooted plants can be severed from the parent and transplanted--in a month or two for soft-stemmed types, four to six months for others.

5. Kill

Sprays don't stop nutgrass, but this technique (plus your persistence and patience) will work. Remove as much of the weed as possible, apply lawn food, then cover the ground with several layers of landscape fabric, and cover it with chipped bark or mulch. Keep it there for at least a year to block out sunlight and starve the nutgrass to death while still permitting water and plant food in to nourish nearby desirable shrubbery. Nutgrass cannot grow through the fabric, but you'll need to make sure no sprouts sneak up around seams or edges or around the trunks of good plants; if so, that nasty nutgrass will take over again.

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KEYWORDS} column - gardening
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Title Annotation:LA.COM
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jul 5, 2008
Words:460
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