July Tips & Events for Santa Clara County
“The greatest gift of the garden is the restoration of the five senses. — Hannah Rion
western Gray Squirrel from Pest of the Urban Landscape Blog
Squirrels
As your fruit starts to ripen, you’ll find you have a lot of competition for eating it. And squirrels won’t even wait until it is fully ripe, making it even harder for you to enjoy the fruits of your labor at their peak flavor. While many of us are happy to share some of our produce with wildlife, squirrels have the pesky habit of taking one bite out of each fruit and moving onto the next, and the next, and the next. You can try covering the fruit or trapping the squirrels, but remember that if you trap them you must either release them on site or euthanize them. It is illegal to relocate squirrels in California. (And, no, that does not mean that you can drive them to another state and release them there.)

UC Pest Notes: Ground Squirrels | Tree Squirrels
Photo: Tree Squirrels: Identification and Management , UC Pests in the Urban Landscape Blog
Masked chafer grubs UC IPM website
Grubs / Beetles
Grubs are the larval stage of the adult beetle. Grubs are normally out of sight in compost bins or in the root zones of lawns, while beetles can be seen crawling or even flying around. Some do more damage as larvae, such as the Masked Chafer which eats grass roots and kills sections of lawn. On the other hand, the Green Fruit Beetle helps in decomposition in the compost pile as a grub yet eats fruit in its adult form. See the chart below for help in identifying what’s in your garden.
Mulching mower by  Cheryl Reynolds
Lawn Mowing
While grass is losing favor in our drought-prone climate, there are still many lawns around. Mowing properly can have an impact on turf health and water use. Set the mower height at the high end of the optimum mowing height range for the type of turf in your lawn (see guidelines for warm and cool season grasses). Mow often enough so that you are cutting off about a third of the grass height at a time. Proper mowing height and frequency make sure the grass has enough leaf surface to photosynthesize plenty of food and grow deeper roots. Keep the mower blades sharp to give a clean cut with less area for pests and diseases to take hold. Consider using a mulching mower which deposits finely cut grass back on the lawn, holding in moisture and returning nutrients. Combined, all these steps promote a healthier, more drought-tolerant lawn.

Photo: Electric mulching mower, UC Green Blog
Container gardening UC Arboretum website
Container Gardening
The great thing about planting in containers is that you can do it just about anywhere, no matter how small your space. You can plant flowers, vegetables, herbs, or even small trees – outdoors or in. Make sure to use a lightweight potting soil rather than clay soil from your yard which can get very hard in a pot, particularly if it dries out. Water and fertilize container plants regularly because they can only draw from a limited area inside the pot. Let your imagination go wild with container choices, just making sure that whatever you use has drainage holes in the bottom. Consider re-purposing old western boots for cactus, a colander for salad greens, or a sugar canister for Stevia

More Info: Container Gardening , UC Cooperative Extension Stanislaus County
Photo: Container gardening samples, UC Davis Arboretum
Basil
Most basil grown for culinary purposes is annual. This means it completes its life cycle in one season and must be replanted every year. To keep it producing new growth through the summer, harvest the earlier leaves as they get larger and before they get old and turn brown. And be sure to pinch off any flower heads that start to form right away before they can go to seed which would be the completion of its life cycle. The plus side to letting it flower is that it will attract bees and other beneficial insects to your garden. A tender perennial form of basil is African Blue basil whose flowers attract lots and lots of bees.

More Info: Basil production , Western Institute for Food Safety & Security
Basil seedlings taylor lab.faculty.ucdavis.edu
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Upcoming Events
We offer lots of free or low-cost gardening talks, workshops, and courses all over the county, as well as hosting information tables at many community events. Please join us and bring your questions!

Photo: demonstrating irrigation at a Master Gardener event

Palo Alto Demo Garden Open Saturdays from 10 a.m.–noon (May–Oct)
Come see what we're growing at our edible and water wise gardens and get answers to your gardening questions. Feel free to bring plant pests or disease samples for identification. We're located at Eleanor Pardee Community Gardens, on Center Road near Martin Street, Palo Alto (v iew map ).

Sat, Jul 07, 10:00 a.m.–11:00 a.m.,  Low Water Lawn Alternatives , Palo Alto Demonstration Garden, 851 Center Drive,  Palo Alto

Wed, Jul 18, 7:00 p.m.–8:30 p.m.,  Growing Succulents , Milpitas Library, 160 North Main Street,  Milpitas

Sat, Jul 21, 10:30 a.m.–12:00 p.m.,  Cover Crops for Home Gardeners , Martial Cottle Park, 5283 Snell Ave,  San Jose

Sat, Jul 21, 11:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m.,  Potatoes - Plant- Grow- Harvest , Berryessa Library, 3355 Noble Ave,  San Jose

Sat, Jul 21, 1:00 p.m.–3:00 p.m.,  Planning Your Cool Season Vegetable Garden , Sunnyvale Teaching and Demonstration Garden, 433 Charles St., Sunnyvale

Wed, Jul 25, 7:00 p.m.–8:30 p.m.,  Cover Crops for Home Gardeners , Los Altos Library, 13 S. San Antonio Rd.,  Los Altos
Visit the UC Master Gardener Program website  for additional information including an up-to-date list of events and classes .

Have a gardening question? Contact our Hotline (for Santa Clara County residents). Start by reviewing our plant  problem diagnosis tips .
  • Mon-Fri 9:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m., 408-282-3105
  • Fri ONLY 1:00 p.m.–4:00 p.m., 650-329-1356 (Closed Dec. & Jan.)
  • Or send us your question online

The University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) Santa Clara County Master Gardener Program volunteers are trained under the auspices of the UCCE. Our mission is to promote sustainable gardening practices by providing up-to-date, research-based horticultural information to home gardeners.

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