June can be a busy month: It's time for finals and proms, graduations and weddings. It's also when we start devoting more time to the vegetable garden, when the lawn demands mowing, and weeds grow with a vengeance. Summer bloomers take their rightful places in beds where only a fleeting memory of daffodils and hyacinths remains. Enjoy the family obligations, but take time to smell the roses. Peonies, too.
1. To discourage mosquito breeding, clean birdbaths at least weekly and don't allow standing water to puddle up in the yard.
2. Trim the top third off chrysanthemums, Joe Pye weed and Heliopsis for fuller plants and more blooms.
3. Remove the bottoms from paper cups and collar around tomato, pepper and eggplant stems to prevent cutworm damage.
4. Fasten rambling and climbing roses to their supports as they grow.
5. To fight mildew, spray susceptible plants with one tablespoon each baking soda and ultrafine horticultural oil diluted in a gallon of water.
6. Join the Tomato Challenge! Send an e-mail about your tomato plants to jessica.damiano @newsday.com. You get extra points for sending pictures.
7. Fill gaps left by early spring bloomers with summer annuals.
8. Plant dahlias and set stakes an inch away from bud-bearing roots now to avoid damaging them as plants grow.
9. Stay on top of weeds. It's easiest to pull them after rainfall.
10. Check containers for moisture daily by plunging a finger deeply into soil. Water when it's dry at root level.
11. Fertilize houseplants at half strength with every other watering.
12. Protect strawberries from birds with netting or floating row covers.
13. Continue watering new sod and grass seed twice a day until it reaches 4 inches tall.
14. It's Flag Day. Hang out your stars and stripes.
15. Add some water lilies to the koi pond.
16. Trim another third off chrysanthemums, Joe Pye weed and Heliopsis. (See June 2.)
17. To increase tomato production, remove suckers, the small stems that grow in the crotch between the main branch and stems.
18. Harvest lettuce before it bolts and turns bitter.
19. Check trees and shrubs for scale. If chemical measures are necessary, never use hose-end sprayers; they don't dissolve, mix or apply evenly.
20. Give Dad a break and mow the lawn for him.
21. Summer begins today.
22. Keep an eye out for Japanese beetles. Pick them off in the morning or late evening, when they're at their slowest, and drop them in soapy water.
23. Pinch back vining houseplants.
24. Deadhead annuals as their flowers fade so they'll know to produce more.
25. Harvest herbs in the morning, just after the dew has dried, for the best flavor.
26. When the first tomatoes appear, shower foliage with fish emulsion for a nutritional boost.
27. Remove foliage from spring-flowering bulbs only after it has turned yellow.
28. Use only low-nitrogen fertilizers on vegetables and annuals.
29. If the soil level is dropping, top off container plants with straight compost.
30. Deadhead hybrid tea and grandiflora roses; prune one-time bloomers immediately after the show.