At Pilgrim Terrace Community Garden, Santa Barbara CA, I believe the first bean, a fine Romano, was plucked April 27; a beauty it was! Maria Heninger planted her beans early and we watched with green bean envy as they have grown their way up her trellis! Those of us who planted in March are just about to have returns!
Water deeply, specially as each plant needs. That’s more frequently for short rooted beans, cucs and strawberries, thirsty lettuces. Now that the ground is warm, lay down your mulch, a natural blanket that keeps light out, moisture in, soil cooler. But don’t use cocoa shells, it can kill doggies. Immediately after planting and watering your new little plant in, sprinkle on some Sluggo. Tiny tender plants are irresistible!
Side dress/fertilize, especially if leaves are looking pale or your plant is puny or slowing down. Blood meal for a quick fix, otherwise, compost, a little manure raked in, liquid kelp & fish mix. Epsom salts for your peppers, once when they bloom and again ten days later. Go very gently with beans, tomatoes and strawberries. These are not leaf crops, you want fruit! Too much N (nitrogen), and you get a lot of leaf, little production. If your planting bed was too rich or you over fertilized, bee bop on out to Island Seed & Feed and pick up some Seabird Guano (NOT Bat Guano!). The Seabird Guano is high in phosphorus, promotes healthy root growth, greatly increases the number of flowers, increases the available phosphorus in the soil and enhances beneficial bacteria activity in the soil! It is good to use generally just before your plants flower or you see the first flowers! This inexpensive treatment is a wonder! Imagine how many beans, strawberries….Yes!
Now is the time to plant heat tolerant and slow bolting varieties of cilantro, and lettuces – Nevada, Sierra, Jericho, Slobolt, Black Seeded Simpson. Bolting, a natural maturing phenomena – the center of the plant shoots up and forms flowers, is caused by accumulated light hours, warm temps, and water stress. Another thing to find is varieties that are leaf tip burn resistant. Might plant them under a bit of a canopy or in the shade of a larger plant? As your big plants get up, clear the lowest leaves and tuck some lettuce or dandelion greens underneath?
If you left open space for successive planting, it’s time to fill those last spots! Things are heating up and growth will be speedy this month! Plant yet another round of any summer crops and year rounders you want! Keep ‘em coming! More eggplant, limas, melons, okra, peppers, pumpkins, beans, tomatoes, corn, New Zealand spinach, cucumbers, summer (fair warning, summer squash – zucchini, are prolific (maybe you don’t need another of these?) and winter squash! Add more year-rounds, beets, carrots, chard, radish, turnips.
See Quick Tips for Some Summer Plants! Your Island Seed & Feed shopping list: While you are getting your Seabird Guano, get some mycorrhiza fungi, Maxicrop – it’s amazing stuff, bone meal, and culinary dandelion seeds! Oh, and some Sluggo! The new containers labeled ‘organic’ have spinosad added to the pellets, otherwise BOTH are organic – meaning they aren’t made from chemicals, but a natural substance. Spinosad kills fruit flies, caterpillars, leafminers, thrips, sawflies, spider mites, fire ants, and leaf beetle larvae, while not killing beneficial organisms including ladybugs, green lacewings, minute pirate bugs, and predatory mites. It would be worth it to me for killing the leafminers alone! They are the ones that make the lines and brown/grey areas on your beet and chard leaves.
Harvesting is not just for food! Just like deadheading flowers, when you harvest, they keep coming! Eat little zuchs flowers and all! Pull beans and cucs continuously while they are young and tender. No storing on the vine, or your plant will think it is done! Continue to harvest your broc side shoots. Once it goes to flower (they are edible – sprinkle them on your salad!), no more side shoots.
* Plant special flowers, herbs, or veggies for Mother’s Day gifts! Friends getting married in June?! Why not give them plants for their new garden together?! How symbolic! Plant a little extra all the time for ready gifts for any occasion!