May to-do list for gardeners
• Control earwigs, which can damage soft plants. They feed at night. Trap them by setting out moistened, tightly rolled newspaper at night and then discard it in the morning.
• Treat for fire blight, which often affects apple, pear, loquat and crab apple trees, toyons and hawthorns. It causes blackened branches that look as if they have been scorched. The disease is spread by insects, rain and pruning; if left unattended, it can kill the tree. Prune the infected branch 8 inches to 12 inches below visible damage.
• Prevent rust on snapdragons, sunflowers, sweet peas and pansies by avoiding overhead watering and practicing good sanitation. Rusts are identified by the dry, brown, orange, or yellowish spores that form on lower leaves. Upper leaf surfaces of infected plants can become spotted or turn yellow or brown. Remove and destroy affected plants or plant parts. Fungicides such as neem oil can be applied.
• Watch for emerging carpenter bees, which are about an inch long and are similar in appearance to bumblebees. They do not sting; they are beneficial insects that pollinate many plants and trees. They tunnel into unpainted softwoods such as pine, fir and redwood. Adults emerge in spring. If they are a problem in your home or garden structures, wait until the bees have emerged, then fill the holes with steel wool and wood filler. Apply paint to the surface to prevent re-entry.
What to plant now
Transplants: Arugula, basil, beans, beets, chard, cucumbers, eggplant, lettuce, melons, peppers, squash, tomatoes.
Seeds: arugula, basil, beans, beets, chard, corn, cucumbers, melons, peppers, squash, tomatoes.
Have a question for Rebecca Jepsen or the other Santa Clara County Master Gardeners? Call the hot line, 408-282-3105, 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. weekdays or check www.mastergardeners.org.