Here are some timely gardening tips from the now retired horticulturalist James Quinn.
Many gardeners are in a hurry to plant tomatoes, but if you missed the early planting in early May, do not despair, they will do very well planted until the end of June.
After establishment, about 7-10 days, plants will benefit from drier soil conditions; this will help them to take root more deeply. For productivity throughout the season, it is advisable to supplement nitrogen three times – 1 to 2 weeks before the first tomato ripens, two weeks after picking the first tomato, then a month later. .
An adequate amount of nitrogen will promote dark green foliage, which improves resistance to leaf diseases. Determine which method you will use to support the tomatoes and start using it about three weeks after planting. If you are using cages, consider providing them with additional support by driving a stake or the like next to them and tying yourself off.
When using stakes and weaves, consider that the most popular vegetable garden tomatoes are indeterminate and will grow above typical stakes or poles. So get the tallest metal posts or the tallest and thickest wooden stakes. The plastic string will hold up better all season long.
June is the time to do some late sowing to extend the summer harvest or have some harvest for the fall. Try another sweet corn or green bean plantation from early to mid-June. Now plant pumpkins and winter squash. Sow the Brussels sprouts in May and transplant in June.
The heat tolerance of lettuce has been improved; try one of these varieties, sow in late May or early June and enjoy the harvests in July and even August. For cucurbits (cucumbers, squash (winter or summer), pumpkins and melons), watch for cucumber beetles in May and squash bugs in June, and treat with an insecticide at the first sign.
Permethrin is the best synthetic option, and last year a new organic insecticide received positive reviews – Azera. Treat with an insecticide any time cucumber beetles or squash bugs are seen. To protect bees (which are necessary for pollination), apply the insecticide in the evening. The inclusion of a spray sticker generally improves the effectiveness of the insecticide.
Strawberries will bear in May or June. Remember to renovate them after the last fruit harvest, this is an important step that is often missed. Summer raspberries and early blueberries will begin to produce in late June. Look for gooseberries in June, but they can go all the way to July if you want them to ripen pink.
As for berries, spotted wing drosophila has been widely distributed. The pest population begins weakly and gradually increases, moving from berry to berry (strawberries, then gooseberries, blackberries, raspberries and summer blueberries, etc.).
Familiarize yourself with the pest and its damage. Weekly treatments with insecticides on ripe fruit are necessary for control, as well as prompt harvesting of the berries and cleaning of any old or spoiled fruit. This pest can also infest peaches.
Trees and shrubs
Spring flowering trees and shrubs should be pruned before the end of the month. Trees and shrubs can still be fertilized before the end of June.
In the rainy spring, hardwoods can become infected with a leaf disease. Anthracnose is common on sycamore trees and occasionally on maples. Fire blight was quite severe in 2014 on Cleveland-type pears and could therefore easily infect trees again this spring. Unfortunately, controlling this disease is very difficult after the onset of symptoms.
Trees with a history of borer problems should receive their first spray at the end of May. Repeat twice at three week intervals.
Common leaf diseases of evergreen trees should be carried out in May. Diploida and dothistroma have been problematic on Scots and Ponderosa pines while spruces have struggled with rhizosphaera needle casting and SNEED (Sudden Needle Drop of Spruce) in recent years, with blue spruce being the most susceptible.
To prevent these diseases, apply a broad spectrum fungicide when the candles start to grow and again about two weeks later. Combine with an insecticide to prevent bagworms. For pines and euonymus troubled by cochineal, the caterpillars are active from mid-May to the end of May and must then be controlled.
The mowing height is important for different types of lawns. Keep the blue bluegrass cut to a height of 1.5 to 2.5 inches and the tall fescue to 2 to 3.5 inches. Try to mow often enough that you don’t remove more than a third of the total height. It is not necessary to remove the cuts unless they are excessive.
If postemergence broadleaf weed control is required, spraying is preferred. This is because most granular products contain fertilizers, and late spring fertilization stimulates diseases such as brown plaque for cool season lawns. There are now post-emergence crabgrass killers for cool season lawns if needed; some of these products also control unwanted Bermuda and zoysias.
Mow Zoysia lawns to a height of 1.5 inches and remove no more than half an inch with each mowing. Gradually increase the mowing height of zoysia lawns throughout the summer to achieve a mowing height of 2 to 2.5 inches in midsummer. Zoysia lawns should be fertilized for the first time in late May and once or twice until August.
Do not apply more than 1 pound of actual nitrogen per 1000 square feet at a time and do not exceed 2-3 pounds of actual nitrogen fertilizer per 1000 square feet per year.
Finally, if yellow nutsedge is a problem, try to treat it early, which would probably be May or June at the latest. It is more easily controlled if treated when it is in the two to four leaf stage. Sedgehammer is an effective product.
Peter Sutter has been a lifelong gardener and a participant in MU Extension’s Callaway County Master Gardener program. Gardening questions can be sent to [email protected]