Saturday, May 2, 2015

May Garden Planner

Saturday, May 2, 2015

May Day is when the old timers say is the best time to plant your summer garden in the Midwest.  Prior to May 1, there is still a good chance of poor weather, chilly temps, and frost in our Zone 6/7 gardens.  This can be catastrophic for tomatoes, eggplants, basil and other heat lovers.

Today, we have the added advantage of the 10 day forecast!  Check out your 10 day forecast to know if it looks safe to plant those tender summer veggies as it is possible to have chilly temps even into May.

So, what are we planting this year?  Of course, we planted the number one veggie in the USA-tomatoes!  This year, we are planting mainly chocolate types and all heirlooms again because they produced well last year.  Loving the black tomatoes with all their fantastic antioxidants!  I did slip in an early type, Glacier, and a storage tomato, Red October.

If you have limited space, look for the dwarf/bush types like Bush Early Girl (only 54 days till ripe tomatoes), Patio, Husky Red, Lizzano and Tumbling Tom. Typically, you can expect to have your first ripe tomatoes around the 4th of July.  Last year, my yellow Tumbling Tom gave me tomatoes in June.

I am trying a Purple Tomatillo, too.  They are supposed to be a good substitute for tomatoes in salsa and other dishes.  Thought it would be fun to try.

We also will plant a variety of mainly sweet peppers-Sweet Red, Yellow, and Orange Banana Peppers, Poinsettia (ornamental and edible hot pepper), Anaheim (for chili powder), Super Red Pimento, Red Belgian, a red Italian sweet pepper, and seeds I saved from a long red sweet pepper from Whole Foods. 

We have two eggplants-Turkish Orange (a beautiful orange color and tasty, too) and a Japanese White Egg.  We will go with Green Bush zucchini and Patio Snacker cucumber, both of which can be grown in a pot.  I am planting extra cucumbers, kale, and parsley this year to make green smoothies.

Our rosemary did not survive the winter so I will replant with another variety hardy to Zone 6.  I keep trying different hardy varieties, but so far, no luck.  Last year was ARP and Barbecue.  I am definitely planting basil, 3 of the Sweet Basil, a Thai Holy basil, a Lettuce Leaf basil, a Cardinal basil which gives beautiful red flowers, and a Blue Spicy Vanilla Basil to use in household cleaners and potpourri.  It is edible, too, which could be really fun in homemade ice cream or other desserts.  The last herb I will plant is Stevia.  It is a super sweet herb that can be used in place of sugar and is high in antioxidants with 0 carbs.  Can't beat that!

It was also time for another round of greens.  Resowing every 3 weeks will keep us in salads all through the summer and fall.  We planted Bloomsdale Longstanding spinach which will last about two weeks longer in the heat than other types of spinach.  For lettuce, we went with Jericho Romaine which has been tested to last 3 months before bolting as well as Red Sails loose leaf lettuce which was still sweet after bolting last summer.  I also planted some oak leaf, Simpson Elite, and red romaine from seed.

We have already fertilized and added compost at the end of March.  When we plant our veggies, I’ll add 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 and wind.

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

I always interplant my garden with flowers.  This year, I am using Zinnias, marigolds, snapdragons, petunias, cock's comb, hummingbird vine, Love Lies Bleeding, and alyssum for annuals.  For perennials, there are day-lilies, irises, and gladiolas.

May is an exciting time in the garden.  Every day you go out, you can see things growing.  The spring vegetables are in their prime, the summer veggies are just starting, and there are so many herbs ready for seasoning your favorite salads or dishes.

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