May Garden Tasks- Weeks starting May 17th & 24th

This week I am going to cover the last two weeks of May. So you can jump in when you read this. 

We are two weeks past our last frost date and the weather is still a bit all over the place. I keep watching the weather for the sweet spot of 55°F to transplant my tomatoes and peppers. I also keep watching the weather for afternoon storms that could bring hail. Make sure your have hail protection ready to go when needed. If you haven’t already, you can start to harden off your tomatoes, peppers, squash, melon and eggplants. Remember to start slow and in shade, 30-45 minutes the first day and building up for 7-10 days as you gradually move them to full sun. Many people skip this step, but it can help the health of your plant leading to bigger and better harvests and less risk of disease. When transplanting it is a good idea to put your stakes in 4-6 inches away from the main stalk at the same time so the roots do not get broken or hurt after the plant is bigger and ready for staking.

You can succession sow beets, lettuces, radishes and any greens that can tolerate the warming temperatures. You can start beans if you haven’t already or make a succession planting. Continue harvesting whatever is ready in the garden. Cut anything that has started to bolt right at the soil surface. Leaving the roots in the soil helps the soil thrive and doesn’t disturb the soil matrix. You also have the option of letting the plant bolt, go to seed and then collect the seeds for a fall sowing or save for future spring sowings, if the plant is not a hybrid. I have over wintered spinach that has bolted. I was going to let it go to seed, but upon inspection I have spinach leafminer eggs on the under sides. I could squash the eggs and let it go to seed, but I really want that spot for warm weather crops, so I plan to remove it this weekend. I am glad I spotted the eggs before any hatched. (That I know of anyway.) They can be found like most pests on the under sides of leaves. 

Now is the time to start daily pest patrols if you haven’t already. I know I mentioned this in past blog posts, but it is so much better to spot a pest issue before it gets out of hand. Taking action at the onset helps ensure you can best support the plant and keep the pest from spreading to other plants or raised beds. Something I recommend is to plant “trap crops” like nasturtiums, they attract certain pests, like aphids, so hopefully they will leave your food crops alone. Plus I love the look of nasturtiums billowing out of the corners of raised beds. Chives also repel aphids, dill attracts tomato hornworms, zinnias attract Japanese beetles, basil repels tomato horn worms. This is where companion planting can come into play. There are loads of books on companion planting. Let me know if you would like a post dedicated to the topic. 

Lastly, enjoy your garden! You have worked hard to get it ready, planted and growing. Make sure to spend as much time as you can in the garden, it’s great for mental health. I suggest adding a chair within or nearby to your growing space to relax and take it all in. I can spend hours in my garden, if time allows. I hope that you are enjoying growing in your garden this season and I wish for you many harvests.

Spinach Leafminer eggs on my overwintered Bloomsdale spinach.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Donna says:

    Thank you for mentioning companion plants. When I planted my elephant garlic last year I left 6″ to 8″ between them & now I’m wondering if I can plant something in this space as a companion plant. What would you recommend?

    1. You can plant beets, spinach, carrots and even dill. I would stick to smaller plants and make sure the soil is well amended to provide enough nutrition for both the garlic and companion plant. If you have room on the edges that won’t block sunlight, you can even plant tomatoes or kale near garlic.

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