Thursday, May 23, 2013

Carleen Madigan: Garden Thoughts for Memorial Day Weekend

  • It’s a good idea to start hardening off any tender seedlings you’d like to plant out — tomatoes, peppers, cukes, squash — if you haven’t already done so. It’s probably okay to plant out seedlings that have already been hardened off, but you never know when a sneaky last frost will hit. I’d wait another week if I were you. They’ll catch up, anyway.
  • If you prefer to direct-sow squashes and cukes rather than start them indoors, you could do that this weekend. You can also be starting beans, edamame (YUM!), nasturtiums, and other tender annual flowers that like to be direct sown. And why not cilantro and parsley, while you’re at it? And another round of greens, just for giggles (and iron and calcium and antioxidants . . .) .
  • New seedlings often need some protection from slugs; try sprinkling a bit of diatomaceous earth around each seedling. It’s nontoxic and also doesn’t waste your beer (like the old beer-in-the-pie-plate routine). It doesn’t work as well when it’s wet, though, so be sure to reapply it after a rain.
  • I don’t know about you, but I’ve got fleas . . . flea beetles, that is. In my arugula. Typical. You can keep them out by covering plants with row cover. But since I’m usually too lazy to do that, I just settle for holey arugula. It still tastes good!
These tips apply to gardeners in regions where the last spring frost usually occurs near the end of May.

Happy gardening!

— Carleen

Before becoming an editor at Storey Publishing, Carleen Madigan was managing editor of Horticulture magazine and lived on an organic farm outside Boston, Massachusetts, where she learned the homesteading skills described in The Backyard Homestead. She enjoys gardening, hiking, foraging, baking, spinning wool, and knitting. Carleen lives in Western Massachusetts.

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