So seeds in
is securely in place. It is such a trance-inducing season. The soil
has drained and warmed and trees are stretching and leafing out. The
ornamental grasses have grown up past their old brown stubs; the hostas
are unfurling, luxuriant as ever.
Many think that
May is somehow already too late or behind schedule for the best planting
possibilities. Now that temperatures are consistently in the 50's at
night and daytime weather is warm and settled, it's the perfect time
for sowing seeds right into the garden. Good choices are summertime
kitchen garden staples like squash, beans, cucumbers and melons. Seeds
sown directly into well-prepared warm soil will grow effortlessly now.
Compost is the
hero of water conservation. If you put organic matter into your soil,
you won't have to water as much. It will also enrich and enhance your
growing medium. Healthy happy roots are key to lush growth along with
water on a regular basis. You can tell when to water by feeling the
soil a couple of inches below the surface. If it feels cool and doesn't
get your finger muddy, then it's the perfect time to water. Never let
your soil become dry and dusty. Putting vegetable under water stress
will greatly affect your harvest. Lettuce, with its shallow root system,
will turn bitter. Cucumbers will just stop growing and snap beans will
drop their blossoms.
There are some
wonderful new containers made out of materials like cold-resistant polyethylene
as well as new designs in Italian terra cotta and cast stone. They come
in wild and hot colors. Be imaginative. Paint your containers to match
your front door or antique them using a new compound on the market that
encourages mossy growth. A container garden can be changed every month.
Why not try a new look this year? Perhaps use only one color scheme
like gray plants one month and red-flowering types the next. If you
love to cook with fresh herbs plant your favorite ones in a window box
or pot near your kitchen. Herbs make beautiful arrangements and can
be so fragrant.
Since we've been
experiencing very dry springs and summers it's time to think about using
plants that are happy in this weather. There are a number of unusual
succulents that need little attention once established. Some of the
annuals that last and hold up well in containers are verbenas, lantanas
especially the Patriot series, pentas especially the Galaxy series,
gazanias, zinnias and 'Sorbet' violas. A pot planted completely with
only one of these varieties is refreshing.
don't be discouraged by failures. Figuring out the right plants for
your containers and garden is a question of trial and error. Finding
the right exposure is tricky. You may have to shift pots around. The
road to this knowledge is lined with the sad remains of potted plants.
Just know that all gardeners have had this experience.