In the Organic Garden: Week of May 15, 2017

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May 15 to 21, 2017—With the frost-free date behind us, we’re planting summer vegetables, filling summer container gardens, and trying to stay ahead of the weeds.

Kitchen Gardens

In fruit and vegetable gardens, we’re

  • sowing warm-weather crops in the garden. We’re direct-sowing beans, edamame, squash, cucumber, and melons this week.
  • planting out tomatoes, melons, and squash. It’s safe to put out your starts now.
  • holding off on planting out eggplants and peppers. These plants like it even warmer than tomatoes. You can start hardening these off, but wait at least another week or two before planting them out.
  • setting up the herb garden. We’re making direct sowings of dill and cilantro, and planting out herbs like rosemary, basil, lavender, thyme, and oregano.
  • hilling up potatoes. Once your potato plants are about 8″ tall, bring soil or mulch up to cover about 2/3 of the stem. Continual hilling up increases potato yields.
  • checking cool-weather plants for insect invaders. Take a look at the leaves of your broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. Remove any insect eggs by hand to prevent cabbage butterfly larvae from taking a chomp out of your plants.
  • remove flowers from recently planted strawberries. If you planted new strawberry plants, you want all the plants’ energy going to roots, not setting fruit. Pinch off the flowers this year for healthier, longer-lived plants.
  • weeding. Keep weeding! Your vegetables and fruits will do better without the competition from weeds.
canna container garden organs

These tropical cannas await planting in summer container gardens.

Ornamental Gardens

In other parts of the garden, we’re

  • weeding throughout the garden. Knock down small seedlings with a hoe, and dig out tap-rooted weeds with a gardener’s knife.
  • mulching after weeding. Remove weeds with a hoe or knife, then mulch. Alternatively, use a sheet mulching technique to smother weeds with a barrier of wet newspaper or cardboard before mulching.
  • planting out tender annuals. You can start filing pots and beds with bedding annuals, like geraniums, petunias, and impatiens. You can also direct sow tender annuals like zinnia and cosmos.
  • planting shrubs and perennials. Don’t dig if the soil is very wet; you might damage the soil structure.
  • mowing the lawn. Set your mower at 3.0″ to 3.5″ to encourage strong grass growth. If you cut too short, you’ll encourage weeds at the expense of the grass.
  • turning the compost heap.

Amy graduated from DePauw University with a degree in physics, a lifelong love of theatre, and a problem-solving style that combines the approaches from both those fields. A Master Gardener and long-time communications professional, Amy conducts gardening seminars and blogs about gardening in addition to her work with Spotts.

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