Memorial Day weekend is filled with celebrations to honor our Veterans, family gatherings and of course gardening. And when you head out to the garden center go with a plan. Much like your shopping list it will help curb, not totally prevent, impulse buys that result in purchasing the wrong plant for the growing conditions or too many plants for the available space. I have a patio full of plants to prove I did not follow my own advice. Fortunately, my daughter has a new landscape and is happy to take my “extras”. So clear out the back of the car or truck and head out to your favorite one, two or more garden centers.
Here are some ideas and tips as you kick off your growing season:
- Plant some lovage (Levisticum officinale) to flavor your tomato juice and Bloody Mary’s. This large herb looks like celery on steroids. It grows 4 to 6 feet tall and is hardy in zones 3 to 7. Grow in full sun or partial shade. Then harvest the hollow stems when needed to use as straws in your tomato based drinks. As you sip the beverage, your lovage straw will provide a bit of celery flavor. Check out Linda Underhill’s article in the Herb Companion for more ways to use lovage. http://www.herbcompanion.com/Cooking/Lovage.aspx?page=3
- Don’t let a lack of space prevent you from growing some of your own vegetables this summer. Many of us have and more will continue to grow food in containers or mixed in with our flowers, shrubs, and other ornamental plantings. Save the sunniest spots in your landscape for tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, cucumbers, and other vegetables where you eat the flowers or fruit. They produce their best and have the fewest disease problems when grown in eight to twelve hours of sunlight. Root crops such as beets, radishes, and carrots can get by with about a half of a day of direct sun and leafy crops like lettuce and spinach can still produce in a shady location with only 4 hours of sunlight. Increase your harvest with intensive planting techniques. Succession planting, several plantings of short season crops in the same space, can double or triple your harvest. Interplant quick-to-mature crops like radishes and lettuce, in between longer maturing plantings of cabbage, tomatoes or eggplant. The short season vegetables will be ready to harvest just about the time the bigger plants are crowding them out. Consider planting vegetables closer together in wider rows. You’ll waste less space for pathways, putting more room in plantings. Make sure each plant has enough space to grow and that you can reach all planted areas to weed and harvest.
- Be sure to add a low nitrogen slow release fertilizer, like Milorganite, at planting and mid-season if needed. Mulch the soil to conserve water and suppress weeds and water thoroughly when the top few inches of soil are crumbly and slightly moist.
- Kids Corner – Keep the kids busy this weekend and test your own gardening knowledge with the help of our Growing Gardeners’ kids activity booklet. And consider getting the whole family involved in the sunflower activity. Plant in a container, small patch in the back of your garden or a sunflower maze. Get the whole family involved in growing, recording and of course eating the benefits of this fun activity. Click here to download
- Try using a wonderful new & organic tool for growing healthy, productive, and beautiful landscapes. Plant strengtheners, like JAZ Spray, immunize plants against environmental stresses such as heat and drought, while building their defenses against insects and diseases. Begin treating established plants from the start of the season to help build their natural resources. Treated plants will be more robust, suffer less damage, and recovery more quickly from stress. Plant strengtheners are also effective when applied at the first sign of stress. This product can increase gardening success when busy schedules or lack of experience get in the way of providing ideal care; a helpful tool for busy people as well as new gardeners who are trying to master the basics of gardening.
For more gardening tips and information, please visit my web site – www.melindamyers.com
Travel Safe and Enjoy this Memorial Day Weekend!