Jessica Damiano Jessica Damiano, Newsday columnist

Jessica Damiano is a master gardener and journalist with more than 25 years experience in radio, television, print and online media. She has worked on Newsday's interactive endeavors since 1994, and currently is Deputy Editor overseeing Newsday.com's Lifestyle and Entertainment coverage. Jessica enjoys toiling in her garden -- a never-finished work in progress -- and helping local gardeners solve their horticultural problems in her Garden Detective column, which appears every Sunday in Newsday. Her Garden Detective column and blog have been awarded Press Club of Long Island Society of Professional Journalists Awards. Jessica lives in Glen Head, NY, with her husband John, daughters Justine and Julia, dogs Maddie and Miguel, and a whole bunch of perennials, vegetable plants and weeds. Ask a question Show More

June! Graduations, weddings and the garden are in full swing. There’s a lot to do as strawberries are plumping up, roses and peonies are in full bloom, and tomatoes are growing. You’ll need to maintain and also monitor and act on weeds and harmful insects. And, soon enough, you’ll start reaping what you’ve sown. Here’s a calendar of tips and chores to help keep you on track this month.

1. Join the 2017 Tomato Challenge. Send a photo of yourself and details about your tomatoes to jessica.damiano@newsday.com, and you might be featured in Newsday.

2. For bigger blooms and stockier plants, trim the top third off chrysanthemums, Joe Pye weed and Heliopsis.

3. Fill gaps left by early spring bloomers with summer annuals.

4. Clean your birdbath at least once a week to keep harmful bacteria at bay — and mosquitoes from breeding.

5. Remove wilted and yellowed leaves from bearded irises to thwart iris borer infestations.

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6. Remove the bottoms from paper cups and collar around tomato, pepper and eggplant stems to prevent cutworm damage.

7. If you haven’t applied mulch, do so now, but keep it a few inches from stems and trunks, and no deeper than 3 inches.

8. Fasten vining plants to their supports as they grow.

9. Keep planting dahlias. Set stakes an inch away from bud-bearing roots now to avoid damaging them as plants grow.

10. Prevent mildew by spraying plants with one tablespoon each of baking soda and ultrafine horticultural oil diluted in a gallon of water.

11. Monitor plant containers for water daily; their soil dries out more quickly than the garden’s.

12. Keep birds and squirrels away from precious berries by covering plants with netting or floating row covers.

13. Snake soaker hoses through perennial and vegetable beds. Roots appreciate direct irrigation, plants will suffer less disease and you won’t waste water.

14. Plant short perennials under clematis to keep their roots shaded and cool.

15. Set your sundial at exactly noon today for accurate timekeeping all summer.

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16. Keep pulling those weeds. Be sure to get their roots or they’ll just come back.

17. Fertilize houseplants at half strength with every other watering.

18. Happy Father’s Day to all the great dads out there! No mowing the lawn today.

19. If you seeded your lawn this spring, continue watering lightly twice daily until grass is 4 inches tall.

20. Cut back chrysanthemums, Joe Pye weed and Heliopsis by another third. (See June 2.)

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21. It’s the first day of summer! Fertilize spring-flowering bulbs and peonies as long as flowers have faded.

22. To increase tomato production, remove suckers that grow in the crotch between the main branch and stems.

23. Inspect trees and shrubs for scale insects. If pesticides are needed, avoid using hose-end sprayers; they don’t dissolve, mix or apply evenly.

24. Hunt for Japanese beetles. Pick them off by hand and drop them in soapy water.

25. Use only low-nitrogen fertilizer on vegetables or annuals, or you could end up with large, bloomless plants.

26. Deadhead hybrid tea and grandiflora roses.

27. Deadhead annuals as their flowers fade to encourage more blooming.

28. Harvest cool-season crops like lettuce, spinach and peas.

29. For the tastiest herbs, harvest around 10 a.m., just after the dew has dried but before the sun is at its strongest.

30. When the first tomatoes form, shower leaves with fish emulsion to give plants a nutritional boost.