Plants have friends too. Companion planting is the name for gardening knowledge that has been passed down through generations of growers, keen observers of plant behavior. Certain plants, grown next to others, are healthier than plants just growing with their own kind. Usually this involves attracting or repelling insect pests. Marigolds have the reputation of being the best companions, being easy to grow, repelling insects with their strong odor, and blooming over a long season. Marigolds are good companions for beans, tomatoes, peppers, and cabbages. And their orange and yellow blooms are happy faces among the veggies.
On sale Thursday, May 21st – Monday, May 25th
Large 5″ pot Heirloom Tomatoes 3 for $10
Medium 3″ pot Heirloom Tomatoes 3 for $5
6″ pot Supertunias $1 off – now $4 each (limit of 4)
The average last frost date, May 24, is fast approaching. Time to prepare for planting warm weather crops—tomatoes, peppers, basil, cucumbers, and melons. Its beneficial to “harden off” greenhouse-grown plants by setting them outside in a protected place for several days and nights to toughen them before planting. They need to be sheltered from wind and direct sun, a garage works, or tucked into a spot next to the house. Since a frost can occur after the average date, be ready to cover the plants in the garden after transplanting.
I guess we can talk a little about squash and cucumbers this week. It is almost time to plant these plants but a few small steps can make a big difference in the success of your transplants.
These plants are extremely tender to not only the cold but to the harshness of our SUN! Try to harden off these plants by allowing them time outdoors under a porch or in the shade of a building for a couple days and nights. They will get used to the dry air and cooler nights before getting planted into the elements.
Planting in the cool of the evening is good and don’t forget to “water them in” after you are done. If you are planting in the morning or during the heat of the day try to create some shade for them during those hottest hours of sun for the first couple days. Maybe a few buckets placed strategically to the South and West or layer some light sheets of newspaper over them (after they have been watered in) for the first hot afternoon.
These transplants are also prone to “dampening off” so don’t pack the soil too tight around their tender stems and let the soil dry out before watering again.
Tiny little salads. This time of year I’m eagerly watching the seeds and transplants every day, looking for signs of growth. Lettuce and spinach that were directly seeded into the garden need “thinning” 3 weeks or so after planting. I always sow them closer than the recommended plant spacing to insure that I have sufficient plants germinate. So they come up thickly and I carefully pull out the smallest seedlings leaving and inch or two between plants. Since I’m always anxious for the first greens of the year I wash the tiny sprouts and have them for lunch—tiny little salads.