Well, we seem to be on track to have a late planting season for annual flowers and warm-weather vegetables. If memory serves me correctly, this was the same pattern as last year.
As always, it will all come together at some point, and there will be a mad scramble to plant those plants or to replace those plants that didn’t like the cool and damp days and nights.
According to the extended weather forecast, it appears that it will warm up late in the week. There is an old saying that you don’t plant tomato and pepper plants until Memorial Day. The farmers knew that many of our favorite vegetables need warm soil if the plants are going to thrive.
If you go out to your garden and put your hand on the soil, the soil feels cold. If you put your plants into the soil when the soil is cold, the plants will not grow. Long-term exposure to cold soil temperatures will stunt the growth and ultimately give you a poor crop.
Over the years, I have seen two neighbors who planted tomato plants. One would plant the tomato plants around the 10th of May. The other would plant his tomato plants on Memorial Day weekend.
The man who planted early would have tomato plants that just sat in the garden and didn’t grow. The leaves on the tomato plants would fade to light green, and some of the lower leaves would turn yellow.
By the time mid- to late June rolled around, the two neighbors found out that they both had tomato plants that were growing in the warm weather of June, but the earlier planted tomatoes were playing catch-up with the plants that were planted Memorial Day weekend.
When it comes to planting tomato, pepper, squash, cucumber and eggplant, you seldom gain anything by planting them early.
Speaking of planting your gardens, do you use a plant-starter fertilizer to help your plants to develop a strong root system? When you pot up your window boxes or place your plants into the ground, the plants struggle a bit to put out a root system into the soil.
It is always best to put the plants in when the day is a bit overcast or even cloudy. This allows the plants a day or two to get some new root system into the soil. If you plant on a sunny day, the leaves of the plant are in need of water to combat the effect of the sun pulling water out of the leaves. All the while, the root system is trying to grow and supply those leaves with water.
If you use a plant-starter fertilizer when you put your plants in, the fertilizer provides the nutrients the roots need to quickly put out a new root system. By using a plant-starter fertilizer, your plants will develop a stronger root system and will grow their best.
So far, there doesn’t appear to be any major pest infestations on plants. However, with a later start to perennials and shrubs leafing out and growing, you should be on the look out for aphids on the new growth of your plants. Aphids usually cluster on the newest growth that appears on your plants. Aphids can be red, green or black in color. If you see them on the new growth, apply an appropriate insecticide to kill them off before they do major damage to the leaves of your plants.
Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.
Tim Lamprey is the owner of Harbor Garden Center on Route 1 in Salisbury. Do you have questions for Tim? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org, and he will answer them in upcoming columns.