* Perennials: delphinium, foxglove, Oriental poppy, other
* Direct seed beans and sunflowers
* Succession seeding for lettuce and Swiss chard
* First harvest of perennial herbs, lettuce
* Pop in replacement sets, hardened off last month, where needed
* Swallowtail butterflies, hummingbirds
* Insects attacking mammals: more ticks, more mosquitos, black flies, wasps
* Insects attacking plants: cutworms, Asparagus beetle, vegetable weevils, cabbage worms
In the Seeding Room
Summertime is when doing your own seeding pays off, especially since major garden centers and stores cater primarily to spring fever! Forget buying lettuce sets to plant in time for ripening tomatoes and cukes, or greens sets for late summer-early fall harvest.
Planter has had success with the more heat-tolerant 'Red Sails' and 'Black-Seeded Simpson' lettuce varieties. Swiss Chard is a more heat-resistant green. 'Bright Lights' or red (below) is a good source of beta-carotene and fiber, and ornamental as well. Vegetable amaranth is also heat resistant and can be used as a spinach substitute. Seed them every two weeks through this month to assure a ready supply.
Seed some backup beans the first week of this month. They germinate within a week and will provide a fail-safe backup for your direct-seeded plantings.
In the Garden
Seeding, Hardening and Transplanting
By the end of the month, we are grateful for extra sets of lettuce, greens, and basil. We lost about 1/4 of our pepper sets to cutworm, despite moving our transplant date to June 7th, so I had to track down nurseries who grow good quality peppers in varieties we like. See Seed Favorites.
Direct Seed early in the month if space is available: beans, sunflowers, succession lettuce, beets, summer greens (Swiss chard, amaranth, mizuna), chamomile, dill, basil, coriander
Harden off: basil, succession lettuce and greens
Transplant or plant as needed: replace sets that fall prey to voles, cutworms, hornworms, wind, drought, and other forces of nature
Harvesting Herbs, Lettuce, and Greens
The top 2"-3" of Oregano, lemon balm, and tarragon, all perennial herbs, can be harvested and stored for up to 3 weeks in the refrigerator, or they can be dried or frozen for later use.
Time of harvest makes a difference in taste and texture. Cukes and lettuce are better picked early in the day, before they dry out. Peas and corn contain more sugars at the end of the day and will be sweeter if picked then.
A second harvest will provide enough for the table, for herbal vinegar, or more freezing and drying.
Basil is also pinched back to enourage a second growth. We have about 4 plants in the ground and a bunch still in pots for the farmer's market or food coop -- enough to provide about a cup for fresh use.
Drought and Pest Management
Drought and pests are fed by weather and life cycles. Neither can be controlled without controlling the other. As weather conditions become more extreme (code for global warming), staying ahead of the game becomes more critical.
An inch of water, or to a depth of 8" to 10" below soil encourages roots to grow deep -- essential during drought. Mulch all plants when about 6" tall to retain moisture, but not before spring temperatures rise to above 70 degrees.
In May, IPM practices were used to set the plants in the ground. This month, IPM applies the next line of defense: getting to know your garden's insects and their life cycles. In 2004, cutworms were most active from late May through June 19th.
Vegetable Weevil appears late-May through June and do considerable damage to tomatillo plants. In most cases, irreparable damage can happen over a 2-3 day period. That's why daily patrols and immediate application of organic controls are essential. Tomatillos are replaced with extra sets and covered with reemay.
Use Bug Brews on adult insects before the eggs are hatched and the population reaches critical mass, i.e., a "threshold" is reached, and you've reduced the need to resort to synthetic pesticides. Cover brassicas and cole crops with row covers when you see a white moth flying nearby.
After the eggs have hatched, apply Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) to control cabbage and asparagus beetle larvae. Bt is effective only on larvae, when the worm is young and exposed during application.
The eggs of cabbage worm are dark green in color and usually laid near the growing head of the plant. Eggs of asparagus beetle are bright orange.
The striped cucumber beetle is an example of one pest whose adult stage can do as much damage as the larval phase.
Japanese Beetle, which should be here next month, is another. In the case of both, they are so busy procreating, they can be easily tapped into a bucket of soapy water!
Drought, nighttime temperatures above 75° and dry winds can cause pepper blossoms to drop. Misting them twice a day helps them retain blossoms and set fruit. Daytime temps below 50 ° will delay growth. Soil temps above 85 ° may stunt root growth. If using black plastic and plant is not grown enough to shade roots when it gets this hot, some mulch on top of the plastic may be needed.
When lower leaves of the tomato plant develop a target spot and turn yellow it could be a fungus called Early or Late Blight, often associated with wet weather. Keep them plucked and don't compost them.
In the Ornamental Bed
Weeding, weeding, and more weeding.
Pop in some ageratum, lobelia, cosmos, zinnia, marigold, calendula, and other annuals where space is available.
In the Meadow
Planter may be located in the Northeastern state of NH, but the Granite State has its share of desert or beach-like environments. Naturalizing is a challenge, especially during droughts.
Nebraska extension service lists Echinacea (purple coneflower) as a wildflower candidate for meadow naturalizing. The Iceland poppy (below) is sensitive to drought and will be transplanted into the perennial bed where it will receive weekly irrigation.
California poppies are better candidates for naturalizing and can be seen alongside phlox plantings in New Hampshire's I-89 median.
Our Rugosa Roses, also in their third year of growth, are the most drought resistant of all our meadow plants. They were taken as runners from our parents' yard and given a fair amount of good soil when transplanted. These roses grow wild along the seashore in Maine and Rhode Island and are extremely fragrant.
Sweet Annie, Cosmos, Shasta Daisy, Gaillardia, and Rudbekia are naturalized closer to the house to provide some color and wreath-making materials in the heat of the summer.
Hawkweed (Hieracium umbellatum) is blooming now.
They can be orange or yellow. Some European varieties are made into teas to cure bronchitis and diarrhea. The name is derived from the Greek hierax, "a hawk," because it was thought that hawks used it to strengthen their eyesight.
Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) are popping up all over. The tall spikey plant can reach 5 feet in the right conditions.
Though they are supposed to be difficult to transplant, this gardener has had no problem relocating them when space is needed. In fact, several are doing nicely in pots and will be a nice addition to our farmer's market section of "wildcrafted" plants. The basal leaves are used for respiratory disorders ,and, at one time were made into herbal "tobacco" and smoked for asthma and tuberculosis.
Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca), a prairie wildflower with a milky latex that can be poisonous to livestock, was used in the 1800's to treat lung and chest diseases. It produces a fruit pod containing seeds with fine hairs that were used in emergency flotation devises during WWII. It is named after the Greek god of medicine, Asklepios.
At the end of the month, our meadow, and our neighbor's meadow, is covered with milkweed, whose fragrance attracts humans and butterflies. Bittersweet is invading these meadows and threatens to choke or smother anything in its way. New Hampshire is following Maine and other states and is banning the sales of Oriental bittersweet.
In the Woodland
Sister-in-law, Liz Dorrington, has discovered some outstanding hiking trails in the Lakes Region mountain area, where you can see wild plants in their natural surroundings. This month, she pointed out a jack-in-the-pulpit and snapped this photo (with a digital camera).
Lobelia grows wild along shorelines in our wetland. Its red flower is a startling contrast to the green riverine environment. It forms a cluster of scarlet red berries in the fall. Image coming.
Weather Logtracks our weather by the month.
Check out our new Plant Photo Gallery.