09 June 2012

Summer Gardening

We are still adding new crops to our sales greenhouse…new marigold colors, new crops of alyssum,   a young coleus crop and new types of basil, to name a few.  The month of June is full of great celebrations; Father’s Day, weddings, graduations. This is a perfect time to assess your landscaping goals and schedule further plantings accordingly for the remainder of the summer and fall seasons.  

Many times we have customers come in thinking it is too late to plant in June….not so.  Flowers can be planted throughout the summer, many well into August.  Garden centers are still full of great plants and you will also find larger plants for a greater impact in your garden.   For those of you not wanting to spend time in the garden weeding, or for a lack of planting space, look for container gardens; combination plantings in larger 10” -  20” pots.  Talk about instant gratification!  Vegetables can also be planted in pots successfully and one is only limited by the size of the pot.  As the summer wanes and the nights become shorter and cooler, look for plants that like the cooler weather, such as mums, asters, ornamental kale, pansies, dianthus, violas and Osteospermum daisies.  These plants are also cold tolerant and can probably withstand a bit of frost.  Well established snapdragons will also flower well into the fall.  One year we had such a mild winter, that my mother’s-in-law snapdragons flowered through Christmas! 

Larger perennials with strong root systems can be planted as late as September and October.  Keep in mind when fertilizing your fall perennials and lawns that you should use less nitrogen and more phosphorous and potassium.  The reason being that nitrogen encourages vegetative growth…too much at this time could predispose the plant to winter damage.  Phosphorous and potassium will encourage stronger root growth, buds and flower primordia and enable the plant to store more carbohydrates, all in preparation for the following spring.

Many vegetable crops such as tomatoes, vine crops, lettuce, arugula and root crops can be planted well into summer.  Check the number of days to finish on the label.  Many tomatoes are about 72-75 days (some longer) from transplant to harvest and can be planted up until July 4th for a later harvest.  Vine crops such as cucumbers and squash finish quickly by taking advantage of the accelerated degree days in June and July and typically finish in 40-55 days, so they can be planted through mid-July for harvest well into September.  Cool season crops like lettuce, arugula, cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli like the cool nights and can be planted through the end of July depending on the number of days to finish a particular variety.  On the farm, we make several successive plantings of many crops to obtain the highest quality produce from fresh, young plants as opposed to trying to harvest from older plants.

As always, happy gardening!

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