Keep your summer garden clean and green

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Dothan, AL Summer officially begins next week!
Meteorologist Caroline Ritter spoke with some expert gardeners about how to keep your garden healthy in the Alabama heat.

Critters are on the crawl as temperatures are on the rise...
Lucy Edwards who is a Regional Extension Agent in Horticulture says:
"Insects are already beginning at their small what we call larval stages; some of them are already turning into adults."
Insects are attracted to plants because they like the moisture.

Edwards says that it's important to control insects now before they eat your backyard garden bounty. You can pick off bugs and worms by hand or use an insecticide or barrier to protect plants.
"Anything that you can put around the base of your small vegetable plant to keep that worm from boring into it would help."

Edwards says mulch is a must with multiple benefits. It helps hold in moisture, suppress weeds, and keep the soil cool.
"Ideally you want to have a mulch layer that is 2 to 3 inches deep."

Edwards says you can use a wood bark mulch or pine straw mulch.
"I say kind of make it look like a doughnut so that way you have a small brim around it and will hold moisture right here."

Showers will be hit and miss over the next few weeks so it's important to have an efficient watering method as well.
"I advise homeowners to get whether it’s a tuna can to measure water or a rain gauge you can put out in your yard..."
Local gardeners and nursery experts say that if you give your plants at least one inch of water per week that's a good measure as we move forward into the summer months.

Edwards' neighbor, Adam Brazell, spends hours in the yard and says choosing the right plants will make your yard low-maintenance.
"Stick with annuals and grasses, you know taller grasses not just daisies and you know all of the pretty flowers that just fade away."

If you want to plant a vegetable garden, Edwards says to stick with squash, peppers, eggplant and zucchini because they are summer annuals meaning they thrive best during summer.

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