Thursday, May 27, 2010

Things to Do in the Vegetable Garden (End of May)

This Vegetable Garden To-Do list may or may not be relevant to you. If you're in zone 6-7 it probably is, if not it might be useful later - or maybe you already did it! It's just a collection of things that I desperately need to complete in the vegetable garden. Maybe desperate it too strong of a word but you know the feeling of standing on the brink of impending chaos while trying to stay above the wave of garden chores while the approaching summer heat continues to stream on in!

Here's what I need to do in my Garden at the End of May:
  • Weed, Weed, Weed! I need to stay ahead of the weeds before they get too much of a hold on any of the beds. I've been pretty good so far with the tomato beds and several of the others but the cool season beds are getting very weedy. (I'm fed up with persicaria and crab grass!)
  • Clear out some of the bolting cool season crops. I'm planning on letting a couple of the lettuces bolt to try to save seeds but I really don't need all the lettuce seeds. I need to make room for beans so the lettuce very soon has to go.
  • Plant more beans. I planted some purple pole beans that are coming up but I really need the space that removing the cool season crops will provide. I like bush beans planted in sequence which I haven't planted yet.
  • Mulch the beds. I use grass clippings in the beds from mowing the yard. They decompose fast but form a great barrier to prevent weed seeds from germinating and let the water right through. Awesome organic matter! (It just isn't right to get so excited over grass clippings is it?)
  • Mulch the pathways around the raised beds. I began the process of re-mulching the garden beds but didn't cover everywhere I needed to cover. I used a thick layer of newspapers underneath the mulch as an additional weed barrier. I'm not a fan of commercial weed fabrics and prefer the newspapers. Most weeds that emerge from a garden are from seeds that are blown in on the wind or deposited by birds. If the weed fabric is underneath the weed seeds it doesn't do any good. I think it's better to install newspapers which will break down and improve the soil slightly and prevent that first year of weed seeds from emerging underneath. Weed fabrics tend to be useless against weeds like Johnson Grass which sends out massive systems of runners. When you go to pull the Johnson Grass guess what else you pull up? Yep, that weed fabric!
  • Tie up my tomatoes. The tomatoes are growing fast now that the heat is here and they need some guidance that only a stake or cage can provide. I'm still using stakes since they are fairly cheap but one day I'll make the switch to heavy duty metal cages. I needed a few more stakes so I cut some 6 ft. sassafras saplings down to use. They had straight trunks and the slope needed a few of them thinned out. (If you saw the slope you would never have even known they were there!) 
  • Sucker those tomatoes! I know it's hard to do but some of those suckers need to go otherwise your tomatoes will get way out of hand. (I've been there, done that!) The larger branches may need pruned but you can propagate them into more tomato plants just by sticking them in a jar of water. They will be more than happy to grow roots for you!
  • Plant more basil. I sprinkled basil seed in many places but it really isn't doing much yet. Hopefully it will come alive, if not I need to start some more. I'll plant it in the vegetable garden as a companion for the tomatoes. 
  • Continue to hill up around the potatoes.
  • Clear the area around the blueberries.
  • Transplant strawberry plants to a new location out of the garden - no rush on this one. (Strawberries are still producing...YUM!)
  • Clean up around the fence areas. Grass always grows up underneath the fence. I'm mulching and newspapering under it too to help reduce the weeds.
  • Monitor squash and zucchini plants for squash bugs and vine borers. I haven't seen many this year but it's wise to keep vigilant. Look for little tiny seed-like eggs in clusters which could indicate squash bugs. To control them organically squash the bugs with your fingers! Or if you just said "eeew!" you can remove that part of the leaf an dispose of the eggs. I'm experimenting with placing catmint cuttings around the base of each squash or zucchini to try to repel the bugs. Hopefully it will do some good (I've got plenty of catmint to use!)
  • Train my cucumbers up the trellis. I haven't showed that to you yet but I will soon. Don't worry you aren't missing much as it's just a hodgepodge of sticks, stakes and fencing material - but it works!
  • All sorts of other tasks that I can't think of right now...but I know they will find me...

That about covers it. My list shouldn't take too long! (Yeah... right!) 

What's on your to-do list?

6 comments :

  1. Nasturtiums also repel squash vine borers. I have it planted all in the bed with my squash, cukes, and beans. Plus the leaves add a nice tangy flavor to salads this time of year.

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  2. Wheeeew, I'm tired just reading your list. Gardeners work is never done. Thankfully.
    Have a great weekend.

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  3. Your veggie plot is coming along famously, Dave! Seems the weeds are never quite kept under wraps. You said: ...standing on the brink of impending chaos while trying to stay above the wave of garden chores while the approaching summer heat continues to stream on in! We're still waiting for some of that summer heat, unfortunately. We've had successive days of temps in the 50's and unrelenting wind, strong enough to blow lawn furniture around. This weekend is supposed to be nice...here's hoping!

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  4. Your to-do lists are always very helpful, Dave! I can relate to almost all of the things which you mentioned. I have some extras, very unpleasant, for example - kill vinca! kill slugs, again! You have a great weekend and find some time to relax!

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  5. Thanks for providing a great list of things to do around the garden. Excellent advice.

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