Friday, May 10, 2013

Time to plant summer veggies!

Tomatoes, eggplant, cucumbers planted in the background
Friday, May 10, 2013

May Day is when the old timers say it is the best time to plant your summer garden.  Prior to May 1, there is still a good chance of poor weather, chilly temps, and frost in our Zone 6 garden.  This can be catastrophic for tomatoes, eggplants, basil and other heat lovers.

Today, we have the added advantage of the 10 day forecast!  I checked out ours and it showed warm temperatures all 10 days.

So, what did we plant this year?  

Of course, we planted the number one veggie in the USA-tomatoes.  This year, we planted all bush types because we wanted to see what we could grow without cages.  We are trying Bush Early Girl (only 54 days till ripe tomatoes), Better Boy Bush, Patio, Husky Red, and Better Bush.  Typically, you can expect to have your first ripe tomatoes around the 4th of July.

We also planted several peppers-Sweet Red Banana, JalapeƱo, Anaheim, Cayene, Pimento Elite, and a variety pack of sweet bell peppers.  It will be fun to see what colors they turn out to be!

We have two eggplants-White Italian and the perennial favorite Black Beauty.  We went with Yellow Crookneck squash and Patio Snacker cucumber, both of which can be grown in a pot.

The herbs we planted were ARP rosemary, tarragon, and common sage.

It was also time for another round of spinach and lettuce.  The first planting of spinach is bolting.  We planted Bloomsdale Longstanding spinach which last about two weeks longer in the heat than other types of spinach.  For lettuce, we went with Jericho Romaine which is supposed to go for 3 months before bolting as well as Red Romaine.

We had already fertilized and added mushroom compost a month ago.  When we planted the summer veggies, I added biochar at the bottom of each hole, a handful of worm castings, and powdered the roots of each plant with mycorrhizal microbes.  Mycorrhizal fixes nitrogen to the roots of the plant, helping it to grow sturdier, bigger and faster.

Biochar is being rediscovered.  It was used for centuries by Amazon farmers.  Basically, it is wood charcoal.  It provides similar benefits as humus except it lasts forever and it is a great way to store carbon, to boot.  It is new in the US, but many are reporting significant improvement in growth and vegetable size.

Before you send your new transplants into the garden, insure they have been sufficiently "hardened off."  If you started your own seeds indoors, take your plants out daily over a week or so into a partially shady spot, letting them get used to the strong sun.

If you purchased your transplants and they were already outdoors, they are ready to be plopped into the ground and grow!

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