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Palo Alto Weekly

Real Estate - June 3, 2011

Garden tips for June

It's not too late to plant a summer garden

by Jack McKinnon

There are several ways that gardeners interact with their gardens that bring about success. Some are like bulldozers and dive head on into the next project, getting it done in record time. Others are like dreamers waiting for the next inspiration to come. Both types have great gardens.

This month's tips will look at some of these techniques and give direction to summer projects.

1. If you haven't planted your summer garden, get on it. No time like the present. Get the old out, dig in new amendments, buy plants, plant them and mulch. Now.

2. Think about what you want your garden to look like over all. This will help lift your spirits so when the time comes and you are moved to do so, you can start with the projects you feel drawn to.

3. Start your fertilizing program from day one and keep it up until harvest. If you are going organic, stock up on your favorite materials. If you are using slow-release synthetic fertilizers, buy a 50-pound bag. It will last a year.

4. Feel what your plants need and when you get the insight, buy just what you need for that plant. It will tell you when it needs food. This way you will be in harmony with its natural life cycle.

5. Start with a clean yard and keep it that way. No weed will be able to get by you and in this way your plants will prevail. This is the way to have a low-maintenance project. Stay on it.

6. Companion planting is good for the garden and good for the earth. Live and let live, every plant has its place even if we didn't plant them.

7. Hire a designer to draw up plans for the next season's plantings. Get references and check out their past projects to secure a reputable design.

8. Take a walk through yours and other people's gardens with prospective designers to feel if they are who you want to work with.

9. Hire a maintenance contractor with all the skills and tools necessary to get the job done right. Check his or her references and look at some of his or her other clients' properties.

10. Walk through your garden every day and look at your plants. Play music to them, eat a meal out there and take a nap in a hammock. In this way you will know what your garden needs and will be able to provide it in its own time.

Good gardening.

Garden coach Jack McKinnon can be reached at 650-455-0687 (cell), by email at Visit his website at


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