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Timely gardening tips for where you live.

Maritime Canada & New England

So much happens in June and July--from dodging late frosts to harvesting the first ripe tomatoes under the shade of a wide-brimmed sun hat. Blooming lupine and irises herald the time to transplant warm-weather crops such as tomatoes, peppers and eggplant--and melons and winter squash for those who get a jump on the season. Salads start to include more greens. The asparagus patch provides daily feasts and can be picked until mid-July if it's well established. Planting tasks shift to mulching duty as the soil warms and there is more need to conserve moisture and discourage weeds. Roses bloom and young robins fledge in early July, just as the first summer squash and broccoli mature. Second or third seedings of lettuce, cilantro and peas can go in every few weeks. Sour cherries and currants ripen, and then the long-awaited first tomatoes--a fantasy that started back in December while reading seed catalogs.

--Roberta Bailey, FEDCO Seeds, Waterville, Maine

Mid-Atlantic

As peanuts reach 12 inches tall, make high hills of soil around each plant and mulch before they "peg" (send shoots downward). Transplant leeks and sow weekly successions of beans, corn, cucumbers and summer squash. Try sowing lettuce under shade cloth for better germination--but stick with heat-resistant varieties such as 'Anuenue,' 'Sierra' and 'Slo-bolt.' Pick an overcast day to transplant them to a spot with afternoon shade. Later in June, plant and mulch potatoes, and start sowing brassicas for fall harvest. Pull onions on a dry day after half the tops have fallen over, but wait to harvest garlic until the sixth leaf down is brown on half of your plants. Add carrots and beets to weekly succession plantings in July, and stop planting corn and beans at the end of the month. Cut back the celery to encourage a second harvest, and in late July, sow radishes, collards, chard and other greens. Enjoy the harvest!

--Ira Wallace, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, Mineral, Va.

Southern Interior

With the onset of higher temperatures in June and July, some spring annuals will start to look ragged and leggy. Cut back the branches of petunias by half, impatiens by a third, and trim low-growing marigolds down to 6 inches. It seems drastic, but the plants will grow new branches and perform even better than before. Also, now is the time for a second application of slow-release fertilizer since most brands only last about two months. If your plants need a boost between applications, use a liquid fertilizer, which easily is absorbed through the plants' leaves and roots. For my money, one of the best is Algoflash, which is 100-percent mineral-based and environmentally safe. As spring garden crops decline, use their space for heat-tolerant replacements such as crowder and purple hull peas, asparagus beans and sweet potatoes. In early July, start more tomatoes and plant your pumpkins for a Halloween harvest.

--Lori Hardee and Karen Park Jennings, Park Seed Co., Greenwood, S.C.

Gulf Coast

By now the need for some type of irrigation system is probably obvious. Low-volume drip or micro-sprinkler systems usually work best in the garden. If you're tired of dragging a hose around, rent a trencher and put in the necessary water lines. There still is time to plant warm-weather crops such as okra, southern peas and Malabar spinach. You even might consider starting transplants for a fall tomato crop, but stick with early varieties that will ripen despite short, cold days. A few leaves on the tomato plants turning yellow may indicate a need for more nitrogen fertilizer, but it also may signal the presence of spider mites or the rapid onset of early blight fungus. Your local county Extension office has bulletins on identifying and controlling garden pests and may offer diagnostic services. You also can check the Web sites of your state agricultural colleges for more information on garden pests and diseases.

--Bill Adams, Burton, Texas

Central/Midwest

It's time to plant the beans when you can go outdoors after dinner without a sweater. Even though many people seed them earlier, it really is better to wait until the nights are warm. You will be rewarded with quick emergence, healthy plants and bushels of produce. The same is true for sweet corn, squash, melons and basil. You can conserve water and ease heat stress on plants with thick organic mulch. A side benefit is fewer weeds because some need light to germinate. Don't have space to garden? Or you want to have something easy to reach by your kitchen door? Try container gardening. Start with a large pot to allow plenty of room and fill with a light soil mix. Don't use regular garden soil because it compacts and doesn't leave space for the roots to breathe. Add your plants, water daily if needed and fertilize every week or so.

--Connie Dam-Byl, William Dam Seeds Ltd., Dundas, Ontario

North Central and Rockies

Exposed topsoil is subject to damage by severe wind and intense sun--especially at our altitude and latitude. As the sun arcs higher, remember the following: Cover your head and cover your soil. Every scrap of plant matter pulled or culled from our garden is used to protect open soil between rows or plants. In much of our area, chilly early summer nights set heat-loving crops off to a slow start. New products such as vented plastic or fabric row covers shield these tender plants from frost without needing to be removed during the day. They also speed ripening significantly by helping to retain more heat at night. If you haven't tried these yet, cover a few plants this year and see how they compare. You might harvest your earliest tomatoes ever. Oh, and remember to plant a new section of salad greens every l0 days for the best baby green salads all summer long.

--Bill McDorman, Seeds Trust, High Altitude Gardens, Hailey, Idaho

Pacific Northwest

As summer kicks into gear, turn garden maintenance into a set of pleasant routines and take time to enjoy your garden. Ease watering chores with drip irrigation and a timer. Simplify weeding by mulching with grass clippings, compost or straw. In June, garlic bulbs begin to swell and are a gardener's delicacy when gently grilled with a touch of olive oil. Thinnings of greens, lettuce, mustard and onions make a first-rate salad. By now, the soil should be warm enough to sow heat-loving crops such as corn, beans, squash, pumpkins and cucumbers--they will appreciate the warmth and outgrow earlier plantings. And finally, begin planning--and planting--for late fall, winter and early spring harvests including cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, greens, peas and root crops. Look for varieties specifically suited to winter production and choose peas that are resistant to enation virus and powdery mildew for best results.

--Rose Marie Nichols McGee, Nichols Garden Nursery, Albany, Ore.; and Josh Kirschenbaum, Territorial Seed Co., Cottage Grove, Ore.

Southwest

In our high desert climate, the peas planted back in February are just finishing, leaving trellises ready to replant with morning glories and other delightful climbers. Consider trellising June plantings of beans and cucumbers, too. This not only adds dimension to the garden, but allows more area for heavier-fruited vining crops such as winter squash. As planting winds down, pay heed to the needs of your growing bounty by foliar-feeding tomatoes and peppers as they begin to flower and form fruit. Succession plantings of mixed greens and annual culinary herbs allow aromatic and nutritious salads throughout much of the season. Use thin floating row covers to protect cool-season varieties from the hot sun, or locate them in the shade of taller plants. A colorful plate of greens, which can be purple, green or red these days, is healthy and gracious to the eyes and also to the palate.

--Erica Renaud, Seeds of Change, Santa Fe, N.M.

Digging Deeper

I am planning to buy a new property, where I will be planting several fruit trees. Are there heritage varieties that do well in my area, or should I choose from what the local nursery has to offer?

--Mary Yates, Canandaigua, New York

The answer to both questions is yes, but the key factor is "local." Fruit tree varieties vary tremendously in how many chill hours they require, which is the average number of hours when temperatures are below 45 degrees. If you plant a low-chill variety, it may start blooming so early in spring that the flowers and fruit are damaged from freezing. Varieties with high-chill requirements fruit poorly when grown in climates where winters are mild.

Local nurseries stay in business by selling climate-appropriate plants, and it's worth checking around to find a nursery that is seriously interested in fruits. Some, but not all, chain stores choose varieties based only on name recognition, such as the 'Bartlett' pear (800 chill hours) or 'Fuji' apple (less than 400 chill hours). At a fruit-minded local nursery, you may find disease-resistant cultivars developed by university breeding programs in your area, as well as historical varieties that grow well locally. You also can network with the North American Fruit Explorers (wwvcnafex.org), which has a list of nurseries on its Web site.

New York is apple country, and it is a good idea to check with the experts at the Department of Horticulture at Cornell University in Ithaca (www.gardening. cornell.edu). They recommend disease-resistant varieties such as 'Pristine,' 'Redfree,' 'Freedom,' 'Liberty,' 'Priscilla,' 'Jonafree' and 'Enterprise.' For storage ability, Cornell experts say later varieties that ripen in mid-October to November are the best. Try traditional varieties such as 'Northern Spy,' 'Winter Banana' and 'Roxbury Russet,' or newer ones such as 'Keepsake,' 'Idared' and 'Goldrush.'

--Barbara Pleasant

We have a terrible problem with blister beetles--the gray ones with white stripes. They destroy our garden. We would like to find a chemical-free control. Can you help?

--Rusty and Jan Leslie, Carrizozo, New Mexico

Blister beetles (Epicauta vittata and other closely related species) appear in swarms in summer, just as tomatoes, beans and other crops start looking good. This native species does one service--the larvae eat grasshopper eggs--but then the adults strip leaves from a dozen different plants. Hand-picking them can be dangerous, because a toxin in the beetles' bodies can irritate the skin. Blister beetles often drop to the ground and play dead when disturbed, so the best way to collect them is to quietly sneak up and shake them into a pan of soapy water placed beneath the plants. Wear gloves to pick up any stragglers.

Some gardeners grow calendulas as a trap crop, or you can skip over a few pigweeds (Amaranthus species) when weeding and let them serve as blister beetle magnets. Old-time gardeners used pine branches to sweep the beetles into water-filled pits. If all else fails, spray infested plants with Monterey Garden Insect Spray, which contains spinosad, a biological pesticide made by fermenting a naturally occurring soil-borne bacterium. (A similar product, Entrust, is acceptable under organic certification guidelines, but it is not as widely available.) When using either form, the beetles should stop feeding soon after they eat some treated leaves, but nonleaf-eating beneficial insects will not be affected. If you cannot find it locally, you can buy Monterey Garden Insect Spray from extremelygreen.com.--B.P.

Send your gardening questions to "Digging Deeper" at MOTHER EARTH NEWS; 1503 SW 42nd St.; Topeka, KS 66609; or e-mail letters@MotherEarthNews.com. Veteran MOTHER EARTH NEWS contributing editor Barbara Pleasant will answer several of them here in each issue.
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Title Annotation:gardeners almanac
Author:Mack, Carol
Publication:Mother Earth News
Date:Jun 1, 2005
Words:1914
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