Late spring and early summer is the perfect time to plant heat-loving crops–tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, cucumbers, zucchini, squashes, cucumbers and lettuce. With lots of input from friends in-the-know
we've got some info to share.
Location, location, location. Place these crops where they will get plenty of sunshine for rapid growth.. Work plenty of aged compost or commercial organic planting mix into the beds ahead of planting.
It's all about the process. Work plenty of aged compost or commercial organic planting mix into the beds, mounds, and hills ahead of planting. Be careful not to let the plants go dry–this will impede quick and even growth which is essential for a sweet, tasty, successful harvest.
Here, the experts have weighed in with great advice for your best green thumb results.
Set tomato seedlings within balls of soil at least 1 inch below the soil surface. Leaving a slight depression around each plant to water in thoroughly will insure even growth. And make sure tomato roots stay moist. It was suggested that inserting a 4-inch pot in the ground next to each plant with the top even with the soil level - by filling the pots with water regularly you won't need to water the surrounding soil.
Add a tomato cage around each plant or place a 4-foot stake alongside each plant tying the stem loosely to provide support.
EGGPLANTS AND PEPPERS
These crops require patience and a soil temperature of 70°, the daytime air temperature above 70°, and night air temperature above 60°. Sun and heat are essential for these plants to reach flowering and fruiting. Protect the garden from cool temperatures. Hold off feeding until eggplants and peppers blossom.
Like eggplants, cucumbers thrive in warm weather. Cucumbers mature quickly and are easy to look after. Pinch out the tips of cucumber plant when seven leaves have formed. This will keep the plant at a manageable size. Once flowers appear, water cucumbers regularly; avoid washing soil away from the roots. Feed every two weeks. Those in-the-know suggest using liquid manure once the first fruits have started to grow.
Green beans can be planted this month. Cold soil can slow down growth, so once the soil temperature reaches 60°, plant the beans. For optimal growth, the soil should be moist but not wet–too little or too much water can leaves beans susceptible to diseases and pests. Avoid overhead watering. Feed beans every two weeks for the first six weeks with compost or organic fertilizer.
ZUCCHINI AND SQUASH
Plant summer squash, and zucchini when the days are warm. Soil temperatures above 70° are optimal for direct seeding and growing summer squashes. Retain as much of the soil ball as possible and water immediately. Squash require frequent feeding: choose an organic fertilizer. Seaweed or fish emulsion is a good choice.
Salad greens–lettuce, mesclun, and spinach–do best in cool areas or choose heat-resistant varieties. You can plant lettuce right through the summer. Rapid growth is the key to tender and tasty lettuce and salad greens. To encourage fast growth, give leaf crops soil rich in well-aged compost - add additional compost every two weeks until harvest.
FEEDING YOUR PLANTINGS
Late spring plantings will be ready for an extra nutrient boost as soon as they begin to flower. Tip: draw a circle with your finger around each plant about 1 inch deep. Sprinkle a tablespoon of organic fertilizer around each plant or add a bit of aged compost; work it gently into the soil with a hand tool and then water well. The extra nutrients will help blossoms develop into fruit and yield sweet-tasting vegetables.
Looking for inspiration or more information? We have so many great garden centers in our area: bearcreekherbary.com barlowflowerfarm.com mattsfarmmarket.com lanzasnursery.com to name a few, with passionate gardening experts. Please share pictures of your garden and some of the fruits of your bounty with us.