June Tips & Events for Santa Clara County
“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need. ~Marcus Tullius Cicero
Monthly Tips
Quiz: To Bee or Not to Bee
Have you seen this insect in your garden? Do you know what it is? Hint: it’s excellent to have around, but maybe not for the reason you think. Read to the end to learn more.
Photo credit: Danielle Pottenger
Syrphid fly - by Danielle Pottenger
laundry to landscape irrigation - Pasadena Water and Power
Photo credit: Pasadena Water and Power
Laundry to Landscape Irrigation

If you do a lot of laundry, you can adapt to the drought and reduce your water bill by using laundry water in your yard. Valley Water has information about simple systems to use water from your clothes washer in your landscape. Suitable plants include fruit and ornamental trees, shrubs, and ornamental annuals. It’s not applicable where the water would come in direct contact with fruits or vegetables. A Valley Water rebate may be available through June 30.
Pinch Your Basil 
Pinch your basil
Pinching off the tips of your basil will keep your plants dense and bushy, encourage fresh growth, and prevent flowers from forming. Young leaves are more tender than older leaves, so pinch or clip your basil frequently through the summer. You can use the clippings in cooking. However, basil flowers do attract many beneficial insects, so you may want to let some plants flower while keeping others pinched back.

Photo: Fresh, leafy growth on basil plants, Rutgers University
Weed Focus: Spotted Spurge
Spotted spurge weed
This annual weed is native to the eastern US but is now common in home gardens here in California. Spotted spurge germinates at temperatures as low as 60ºF and is often found in open areas, sidewalk cracks, and thin lawns. It forms a dense mat of foliage that grows radially from a central taproot. Left unchecked, each plant can grow to 3' across and can produce thousands of seeds. The seeds need light to germinate, so a 2" cover of mulch usually provides effective control. Pull weeds when you see them, removing the root to prevent regrowth. Use gloves to avoid contact with the white sap which can irritate skin.

Photo credit: UMass Extension
Fungus gnat
Photo: Fungus gnat, C. D. Armstrong, University of Maine
Fungus Gnats

Have ever found yourself waving away a poorly-flying, small insect near seedlings or houseplants? Or noticed a swarm of tiny flies around a composting ​​bin? Adult fungus gnats are nuisance pests, but in high numbers the larvae can damage roots and stunt plant growth. They thrive in moist, organically-rich potting soil and can be found indoors at any time of year. The most effective control targets the larvae by eliminating excess moisture, especially by letting the surface of container soil dry between waterings. Other control methods are discussed in the linked UC Pest Note.
Stop Watering Your Garlic 
It’s time to stop watering your garlic if you haven’t already. The tops will turn yellow and start to dry. Allow the bulbs to stay in the ground while the tops dry out, then carefully dig them up in mid-June to July. Cure the bulbs by placing them in a warm place with good air circulation, out of direct sun, for two weeks. Curing is an important step for good storage.
Photo: Garlic bulbs drying, J. Alosi, Butte County Master Gardeners
Garlic bulbs drying - J Alosi - Butte County Master Gardeners
Syrphid fly larva
Photo: Syrphid fly larva eating an aphid, David Cappaert, Michigan State University, Bugwood.org
Quiz Answer: Syrphid Fly

This bee look-alike is a syrphid fly, also called a hover fly. Bees have 2 sets of wings, while flies only have one pair, plus they can’t sting you. Syrphid flies are welcome in our gardens because their larvae feed on soft-bodied insects like aphids and mealybugs. The next time you find aphids in your garden, take a close look to see what’s eating them. You might also see lady beetles, lacewings, or parasitized aphids. Aphids have many natural enemies.
Upcoming Events
Our monthly Plant Clinic Online is an opportunity to chat with a Master Gardener via Zoom to diagnose a plant problem. You can also listen and learn while other people ask questions. It takes place on the second Saturday of the month (June 11), from 10–noon. Priority will be given to questions that are emailed in advance; instructions are in the Zoom registration confirmation. Registration required.

Open Garden Palo Alto Demonstration Garden, Saturday, June 4, 10 am–noon, Palo Alto Demonstration Garden, 851 Center Dr, Palo Alto

Why You Need Flowers in the Vegetable Garden: Pollination and Pest Management, Saturday, June 4, 10 am–noon, Palo Alto Demonstration Garden, 851 Center Drive, Palo Alto

Succulent Open House & Sale, Saturday, June 11, 9 am–noon, Martial Cottle Park, 351 Chynoweth Avenue, San Jose

Growing Vegetables in Containers, Saturday, June 11, 10–11:30 am, Martial Cottle Park, 5283 Snell Avenue, San Jose

Open Garden Palo Alto Demonstration Garden, Saturday, June 11, 10 am–noon, Palo Alto Demonstration Garden, 851 Center Dr, Palo Alto

Growing Summer Vegetables During Our Current Drought, Saturday, June 11, 1–3 pm, Sunnyvale Teaching and Demonstration Garden, Charles Street Garden, 433 Charles St, Sunnyvale

Plant Clinic, Saturday, June 11, 10 am–noon, Online

Open Garden Palo Alto Demonstration Garden, Saturday, June 18, 10 am–noon, Palo Alto Demonstration Garden, 851 Center Dr, Palo Alto

Pests in the Summer Garden, Saturday, June 18, 10:30–11:30 am, Morgan Hill Library, 660 West Main Avenue, Morgan Hill

Open Garden Palo Alto Demonstration Garden, Saturday, June 25, 10 am–noon, Palo Alto Demonstration Garden, 851 Center Dr, Palo Alto

Growing a Bountiful Summer Garden, Saturday, June 25, 2–3:30 pm, Saratoga Library, 13650 Saratoga Avenue, Saratoga
Check our calendar for the latest schedule of events. Videos of many past presentations are also available.
About Us
University of California Master Gardener volunteers promote sustainable gardening practices and provide research-based horticultural information to home gardeners. Visit our website for more information including:


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