If you didn’t plant much in April, now is the time! Cantaloupe! Transplants of winter squash asap so they will have time to grow and harden for harvest! Tomatoes planted now while the soil is warmer and dryer will stand a better chance against soil fungi. Plant 2nd rounds of late March, early April plantings.
Sow seeds of lima and snap beans, beets, cantaloupe, carrots, celery, chard, chicory, chives, slo-bolt cilantro, corn, WHITE radishes with cucumbers to repel cucumber beetles, radishes with eggplants as a trap plant for flea beetles, leeks, warm-season lettuces, melons, okras, green onions, peanuts, peppers, pumpkins, soybeans, warm-season spinaches, squashes, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes. At the same time put in transplants of what you can get, and you will have two successive plantings in at once!
Long beans are an exception. I find they don’t really take off until it’s good and hot, so wait until June to plant them. Also, they are the last bean producers, filling in at the end of summer. At the end of summer they are crankin,’ you won’t believe how quickly they get that long! Even better, they don’t get mildews! Their taste and texture is slightly different than our standard green beans, but delish also!
Creature Department! Head of the L.A. master gardener program, Yvonne Savio says ‘Interplant cucumbers and beans to repel cucumbers beetles and prevent the wilt diseases they carry. Also plant Cucurbita lagenaria gourds as trap plants for cucumber beetles. Plant potatoes to repel squash bugs.’ And here’s a trick she recommends! ‘When hand-picking those hard-to-see tomato hornworms, sprinkle the plants lightly with water first. Then, as the horn-worms wiggle to shake off the water, you can easily see them and remove them.’ Doncha love it?!
Important to know this: Later this month, when foliage on garlic, bulb onions, and shallots begins to dry naturally, stop irrigating. Dry outer layers needed for long storage will form on the bulbs. When about half of the foliage slumps to the ground naturally, bend the rest to initiate this maturing. The bulbs will be ready for harvest when the foliage is thoroughly dry and crisp. Not pretty, but it’s the way it works!
Be careful with your strawberries! Give them a balanced fertilizer, like a yummy micronutrients fish/kelp mix, now and after each heavy fruit-bearing period for continued strong growth and fruit set. One of our gardeners fed them this mix every other week and his harvests were outstanding! However, if you have skunks, etc., don’t use fishy stinky stuff because it attracts these foragers. Avoid mulching with manure, especially chicken, that has a relatively high salt level strawberries don’t like. Even with excellent irrigation and drainage, summer heat will cause its saltiness to burn the berry plants. So what to use if you have skunks and the like? Bunny poop. Get it on Thursdays at the Animal Shelter. You are doubly warned.
Mulching? Do it in summer! Self Mulching! This is the cheapest, easiest technique! Transplant seedlings close enough so that the leaves of mature plants will shade the soil between the plants. If you choose to do this, alternate plants that get the same diseases or pests with plants that don’t get the same diseases or pests. That’s all there is too it! Roots are cool and comfy, less water needed. Natural mulches feed your soil as they decompose. Avoid any that have been dyed. Strawberries and blueberries like loose, acid mulches – pine needles or rotted sawdust. Raspberries and blackberries enjoy SEEDLESS straw. Plants are done? Chop and Drop! Mulch is just so clever! Besides the underground advantages, above ground, it keeps plant leaves off the soil where snails, other critters, soil diseases, climb onboard. It keeps leaves drier, less molds, mildew. It keeps fruits off the soil, prevents soil splash, so you have clean harvest.
See the entire May newsletter!