Neighborly Garden News
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6 Procrastinator-Friendly vegetables that you can harvest in a flash! (Almost)
We know how easy it is to put off projects when so many activities keep calling. June does not mean you have missed your window of opportunity for getting a veggie garden going. Even if you are unable to get a formal garden dug, you can still raise very tasty and healthful veggies in almost any type of container which can have holes drilled through the bottom. The easiest and quickest-to-harvest veggies are best grown from seed. Local sources for seeds, are the garden center, hardware store, grocery store, even the dollar store sells seeds. Quick growing veggies are:
Leafy Greens-grocery store favorites like baby spinach, baby kale, baby lettuce etc. are just normal leafy greens harvested earlier in their growth period. Arugula, Spinach, lettuce and Kale can be ready for harvest within 30 days of planting. Sow the seeds in rows 6-8 inches apart for harvesting at the ‘baby’ stage. If you want the greens to fully mature, space the rows 12 inches apart. Other choices for quick baby greens Mustard, Escarole, Endive, Mesclun mixes.
Radishes-These brightly colored veggies can be ready in as little as 3-4 weeks. Once you see the radish poking itself up about the soil; it’s time to harvest. If you just can’t wait for the tasty radish tang, radishes also make speedy micro-greens. From seeding to harvest in about 10 days, you can harvest the tiny leaves for toppings on salads or other dishes. Sow radish seeds about an inch, deep in rows 6-8” apart. Plan to thin out dense seedlings to make room for the mature radishes to fill out.
Baby carrots-are just earlier harvests of regular carrots. Carrots like rich soil, with added compost; sow seeds about a half inch deep in rows 12” apart. Baby carrots are ready to harvest in about 60 days. Leave the baby carrots for the full 75-80 days for fully mature veggies.
Bok Choy-This leafy cabbage cousin is ready to harvest at the young stage in 30-45 days. Plant bok choy a half inch deep, in rows 12” apart. Bok Choy does not like to dry out, make sure you keep it well watered in its container.
Sunflower Shoots– make great additions to salads, and sandwiches. So easy to grow, you can even grow them on your sunny windowsill. Ready to harvest in about 12 days, any extras can be planted in an outdoor pot for their cheerful blooms.
Bush Beans-Reaching maturity in only 50 days, these veggies require no extra care beyond watering. Your only drawback may be the productivity of the plants- they all are ready at once, so be prepared to freeze or share the bounty. Plant bush bean seeds a half inch deep, 3 inches between the seeds; in rows 18 inches apart. Bush Beans won’t require any trellis like pole beans do.
June’s to-do list
My Mother told me I was born during a New York City heat wave, on May 20th. So our little mini heat wave last month did not seem too unusual to me. Honestly, I was born loving warm weather. Our yo-yoing temperatures these past few weeks did take me and some of the plants by surprise, though. In Zone 5, our last frost date in Western MA is May 16th, or possibly as late as the 31st. It’s hard for the plants to acclimate to the wide swings in temperature that we saw. Good reason to hold off on planting tomatoes and their cousins until Memorial Day. Luckily they all seem to catch up by the end of June. There is definitely still time to get a veggie garden going for this season- so get growing!
Now that Forsythia, Lilac, Azalea, and Magnoliashave finished blooming, it’s the best time to prune and shape your early flowering trees and shrubs. This allows them to form buds through this growing season for next year’s bloom. July 4th is considered the last safe date to prune Lilacs before they set flower buds for next season.
Prune and shape evergreens once the new growth ages to a darker green color. If the plant is very overgrown, better results will be achieved with gradual trimming rather than a drastic cut. Pruning too much growth at one time, can risk killing the entire branch. Unsure how much you can safely prune? Countryside offers professional pruning services and summer shearing.
Bulb foliage should be allowed to fade naturally; allowing the bulb to benefit from the nutrition the leaves provide it. You can safely cut or mow the bulb foliage after June 30th.
A dry winter, with unseasonable periods of warm and cold, has damaged many ornamental plants in our landscape. Predictions call for an unusually hot summer. Our gardens require a minimum of one inch of water per week (best to invest in a rain gauge), whether it’s from Nature or our hose. Woody plants installed during the last season should be given supplemental water, and all trees and shrubs will benefit from watering during times of extreme heat and drought. Damage from drought stress will often show up 1-2 seasons after the stress occurred.
Insect and fungal pests will increase with the approach of summer. To help get ahead of any plant problems, train yourself to monitor your plants frequently. Check under the leaves, looking for signs of infestation: yellowing leaves, and discolored leaf spots, flowers that fail to open fully are some readily noticeable ones. Aphids are a common pest, and surprisingly can be black, orange, or green in color. Botrytis, or grey mold can be minimized by not allowing dead leaves or flowers to accumulate, as it thrives on decaying plant matter. Deadheading your flower bed is as effective as weeding for settling your mind after a long day on the computer.
If you haven’t already staked your peonies, and other tall garden plants, better late than never! One minute all the plants were just popping out of the ground, and we put it off, but now is the time to get your beauties supported.
I’ve had my own run-in with a tick this spring, and had to take medication, so everyone be aware of the seriousness of a random tick bite for humans and animals. According to the CDC, May and June are the peak months for Lyme disease infections. Countryside uses the product ‘Tick Free’, which is 100% organic and very effective for eradicating ticks in your yard, and garden; yet completely safe for people, pets, and beneficial non-target insects. Please contact our spray program manager, Scott Higley, for details: firstname.lastname@example.org
Need an extra hand with weeding, and garden chores? Countryside can do the ‘heavy lifting’ so you don’t have to. Please call our office: (413) 458-5586 or email: email@example.com
Bugs with Benefits
Let’s start by saying that all bugs are insects, but not all insects are bugs. The true bug species are in the order Hemiptera, which include aphids, leafhoppers, and cicadas. The defining features of these insects are the mouthparts which have evolved into a beak-like proboscis that is used to pierce plant tissues, and suck up the sap.
Caterpillars can be garden pests, but the immature phase of butterflies and moths feeds 95% of our terrestrial bird species. They are the ideal food for baby birds; full of essential nutrients and protein. In actuality very few species of caterpillar eat crops or ornamental plants. The majority of caterpillar species live on wild native plants, such as Monarch caterpillars feeding on milkweed plants. A diverse palette of flowering plants will benefit moths and butterflies. If possible try and leave an area in your yard unmown, or only mown once a month to achieve an undisturbed area for the immatures to develop. When doing garden clean-ups be aware that some butterflies and moths will over winter in fallen logs, and under leaves.
Crickets are called the unsung heroes of nutrient recycling. Their job is to aid in the breakdown of leafy organic matter, which is bound up in a tough layer of cellulose. By chewing leaves up into smaller pieces, the cricket accelerates the decomposition process, allowing plants to access the nutrients each leaf holds.
Robber Flies, Tachinid Flies, and Parasitic Wasps are the sharks of the insect world. They all work to keep other insect populations in check by hunting and eating them. Robber Flies will even catch tough, hard to kill, Japanese beetles. Make them welcome by allowing a few rotten logs to remain in your yard perimeter; their larvae develop in this environment while they feed on wood boring insects.
Robber fly eating a Japanese beetle
European honeybees are used to pollinate our food crops; 35% of our crops will not set seed or fruit until pollen is transferred from flower to flower. Bumblebees and the other 4,000 species of indigenous or native bees are the pollinators of our native plants, which helps to support our ecosystems. Native bees nest in many different kinds of habitats; ground nesting bees are the most common, and need bare patches of well drained, sunny soil. Cavity dwelling bees will welcome bundles of hollow reeds or bamboo for nesting. You can purchase pre-made nesting blocks for cavity dwelling bees from online garden retailers. When placing out bee blocks or other nesting material, be sure to provide protection from sun and wind exposure.
A home for native bees
We can help our native pollinators by increasing plant diversity, and not mowing too early in the season. Early season blooming native plants provide essential nectar, for newly emerged pollinators. We can grow perennials and shrubs to provide nectar the whole season long. American Linden is known as the ‘bee tree’, as it is that attractive to native bees. Native Blueberries also provide a good source of nectar for bees, and delicious fruit for us. Let some of your yard remain wild, unmown if possible, for our beneficial insects to live and reproduce.
Summer blooming trees add color and texture to the lush green foliage of summer. It’s a welcome sight after the explosion of early blooming tree species have faded. We are fortunate to have many attractive native species to enliven our summer gardens.
Cladrastis kentukyea, the Yellow-wood tree is a member of the legume, or pea family. Yellow-wood has wonderful sweet- pea-like panicles of white or pink flowers in June. This hardy native tree grows 30-50 ft tall x 40 ft wide, with low branching, smooth, silvery bark. It is adaptable to a range of soil types.
Cladrastis kentukyea flowers
Oxydendrum arboretum is our native Sourwood tree. Known as the Lily-of-the-valley tree, it has distinctive panicles of fragrant, creamy-white flowers blooming over a 4 week period during June-July. Excellent specimen for naturalizing in poor, acid soil, with full sun or partial shade. Mature height: 25 ft tall x 20 ft wide.
Oxydendrum arboretum in bloom
Liriodendron tulipfera, The Tulip tree is a stately native tree with unusually shaped glossy green leaves. The yellow, orange and green tulip flowers are borne in late June. Interesting cone-shaped fruit develops and will persist through the winter. This is a tall tree that can grow 70-90 ft tall x 35-50 ft wide at maturity. The tulip tree benefits by allowing for its massive potential height. Tulip trees prefer consistently moist soil.
Liriodendron tulipfera flowers
Aesculus parviflora, the Bottlebrush Buckeye is a handsome large native shrub. It is very adaptable to a range of soil conditions. The interesting rough textured leaves turn butter-yellow in the fall. The white and pink flowers are formed on 12” spikes at the tips of branches. Bottlebrush Buckeye is very adaptable to soils types and sun exposure, blooming well in full sun to partial shade. Grow 8-12 ft tall x 8-15 ft wide.
Aesculus parviflora in bloom
Planting a tree is an investment in your property value, and in bettering our world. If we all planted one tree each year, think of how much beauty we would reap as they mature and enrich our environment. Countryside Landscape can guide you through the process of choosing, buying and planting your new tree.