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Mid-May and June are the months when the garden starts to get going, and there is plenty to do.
One of the biggest mistakes people make is to plant too early. People get excited when it is sunny for a few days, put plants in the ground and think they will grow.However, the seeds either rot from damping off fungus or germinate very slowly. At the very least, they may become stressed for the rest of the season and never catch up.Use a soil thermometer to help you know when to plant vegetables. Wait until the soil is consistently above 70 degrees to plant tomatoes, squash, melons, peppers and eggplant. Fifty degrees is a good benchmark for cool-season crops. An inexpensive soil thermometer helps keep planting time in perspective.Frost can still be a concern during cold nights. Protect young vegetables from frost by having row cover (frost cloth) on hand. Place over crops when needed. Use season extenders, such as walls of water, around tomatoes and other tender plants.Roses will begin to bloom in May and will need to be deadheaded after the blooms are spent in order to promote more blooms throughout the season. When selecting new roses, choose plants labeled for resistance to diseases.When your new leaves are out start a spray program to control rose diseases such as mildew and black spot with a registered fungicide, either organic or synthetic. There are several on the market and all work well.Fertilize your roses with a water-soluble plant food every two weeks depending on your soil. A rose plant that is disease and insect free and fertilized regularly is a healthy and happy one.Make sure your climbing roses are securely tied into position. Prune them after blooming.Prune spring-flowering shrubs like lilacs, forsythia, quince, flowering currant and Mexican orange blossom. Once flowering has finished, prune Clematis to keep it to size, and tie twining climbers like honeysuckle and clematis into supports. Prune rhododendrons and azaleas after bloom.Prune your hedges so they are slightly wider at the bottom than at the top. This allows sunlight to reach the bottom leaves, preventing the loss of the lower leaves.Deadhead your annuals to encourage continued flowering. Remove dead foliage from your spring flowering bulbs, but only after they have died back naturally.Mid-May is a great time to plant dahlias, gladioli and tuberous begonias. You can also plant chrysanthemums in May for fall color.Now is the time to get your garden ready for efficient water use for this summer. Here are some tips to keep in mind: Mulch your trees and shrubs throughout your landscape. Use organic mulches to conserve soil moisture in ornamental beds. An inch or two of sawdust, bark dust or composted leaves will minimize loss of water through evaporation.Water deeply and less frequently, instead of often and shallowly.Water early in the day.Wherever you can, use soaker hoses or drip irrigation system.If you use sprinklers, do not set them so high that they give off a mist, which will just uselessly evaporate away.Remember to practice crop rotations. We all have our favorite spots for our veggies, but try moving plants around this year, even if it is just 10 feet from last year’s location. Pests tend to lay eggs in the soil, so when the eggs hatch and cannot find their food, they die off.Mid-May into June is a good time to plant snap and lima beans, Brussels sprouts, cantaloupes, slicing and pickling cucumbers, dill, eggplant, kale, peppers, pumpkins, summer and winter squash, onions, potatoes, tomatoes and watermelon.It is easier to transplant tomatoes, peppers, melons and squashes as vegetable starts either purchased or started in your greenhouse.Right now you can get away with planting cool-season vegetables like peas, arugula, mustard, radish and turnip in prepared planting beds. Also, carrots, beets, scallions, chives, parsley and cutting greens that are easy to grow from seed; or plant already-started transplants of kale, head lettuce, chard, leeks and onions.Insects can be a problem this time of year.Enlist birds, bees, spiders, ladybugs, green lacewings, predator mites, nematodes and other beneficial insects; they will gladly fight for you. Set up a birdbath and feeder along with flowers that produce nectar. You will have friends for life.Companion plantings work well together because one plant will repel pests from the other. An example is having onions and sage together next to carrots to repel flies. Marigold, garlic, lovage and catnip are other great pest repellants.If you have apples and pears, look for codling moth. Place pheromone traps in apple trees to detect presence of codling moth and treat as necessary.Monitor aphids on strawberries and ornamentals. If present, control options include washing off with water, hand removal, or using insecticidal soaps.Spittle bugs may appear on ornamental plants as foam on stems. In most cases, they don’t require management. If desired, wash off with water or use insecticidal soap as a contact spray.While you’re following our May and June gardening tips, don’t forget to take some time just to relax and enjoy watching your garden grow.
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