Gardening – planting out…finally

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    Finally, by the first of June, you no longer have any seedlings in your house! For so many gardeners, no matter how fun and rewarding it was starting seedlings early inside, finally being rid of them is a huge relief. You can have your windowsills and tables back! If you have cats, you can exhale, celebrating all the seedlings that survived!

    There is nothing that cannot be planted in the garden by this point. While many gardeners wait until the Victoria Day long weekend to plant out tomatoes, peppers, and basil, there are still a few who hold out until June 1.

    Considering the forecasted temperature for overnight on May 27 and 28 in Winchester was 4 degrees Celsius, it seems like those holdouts might know something! Four degrees won’t kill even the most tender of garden plants, but some peppers are notoriously bratty, and will stop growing for a while and drop their flowers.

    By this point, all your seeds and plants are in the ground, or containers. Consider continuously seeding some things throughout the summer. If you plant all your kale or spinach seeds at the same time, you’re going to be drowning in greens for a week. If you plant a few seeds every week, you will be able to have a bit of everything fresh all summer.

    Intersperse your vegetables with some fast-growing annuals, such as calendula, marigold, or zinnia flowers, or some herbs such as borage, chamomile, or basil. The herbs and flowers help deter some pests, attract some beneficial insects and pollinators.

    We have this idea that flower gardens and vegetable gardens are two distinct things. Try distributing some flowers and herbs alongside your vegetables, or some interesting vegetables in your flower beds. Besides, a whole lot of flowers are edible, including violets, marigolds, nasturtiums, pansies, lilac, dandelions, lavender, peonies, snapdragons, and peonies. Sprinkle some nasturtiums or pansies on top of your green salad for your first post-pandemic dinner party!

    When you are planting your seedlings outside, you’ll hear about some tricks, guaranteed to increase your yield. Some of them are based in science, some just dumb luck. Find what works for you. Suggestions like putting a Tums in with each tomato seedling is based on the fact that a lack of calcium can cause some diseases, such as blossom-end rot in tomatoes.

    Most often though, there is plenty of calcium available to tomatoes, but they need to be watered correctly to be able to access the calcium. Tomatoes should be deep watered, only at the root, and only when they need it. They are much happier with a good slow soaking at ground level every week, than a sprinkle every day.

    Obviously, that is dependent on what kind of weather we’re having. We need rain already, at the beginning of June.

    Consider mulching to keep moisture in the soil, and roots cool. Another trick you’ll hear about is to put a raw egg under each tomato plant. I thought I’d listen to a world-renowned tomato grower one year and try that….. the raccoons loved me!! They dug up every plant!

    When you plant out tomatoes, you can carefully remove a few bottom leaves and plant the stem very deeply. Roots will grow from the entire stem. That doesn’t work with peppers though.

    Many plants that grow vines, that we are used to seeing growing along the ground, can be trellised. This saves space, and keeps them from rotting if it’s a damp summer. It allows air to circulate through the vine and around the fruit.

    We can have very humid summers! You may have to support the fruit on the trellis as it grows, depending on what you’re growing.

    Just like there are some plants that can’t take the cold, there are some who don’t like the heat.

    In zones further south, some people grow spring, summer, and fall gardens. The spring and fall work for growing the cooler crops like spinach, kale, lettuces, or peas. The summer crops are those heat-loving tomatoes and peppers.

    Even in our shorter growing season, lettuces, cabbages, or spinach like the cooler temperatures. As summer progresses, you can plant some of them knowing that they will continue into the fall. Lettuce and spinach, for example, bolt in the heat.

    They grow flowers, and the leaves become bitter. If you have shade in your garden, consider planting some of those in the shade.

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