Gardening with Penn State Gardeners #3

HOORAY IT’S MAY!!!

Time to plant!

Since our last article you have been busy sowing your lettuce, spinach, peas and any other cool weather veggies. You also have started your seedlings indoors and they are popping!

We are all chomping at the bit to get all those plants and additional seeds in the ground so we can begin to see the fruits (actually veggies) of our labor.

Here are a few tips for your next steps in the planting process for May:

  • Don’t get in a hurry to put out the warmer weather plants such as tomatoes, peppers, squash and cucumbers. NEPA (zone 5 and 6) is fickle when it comes to May weather. Use May 15th as a guide of frost-free planting but don’t be surprised if you get a night or two below freezing. Cover those plants to prevent damage.

  • If you have not planted your lettuce, peas or other cool weather crops, not to worry. You still have plenty of time since May weather is cool enough for these vegetables to thrive. Plant them now as they have greater frost tolerance and they germinate and mature quickly.  

  • You now need to prepare your 4 to 6 week old seedlings for transplanting outdoors. This requires a process called “hardening.” Hardening takes about a week and prepares your seedling for outdoor planting. Seedlings should be placed outdoors in an area that is protected from wind and slightly shaded. Sun exposure should be limited to an hour or two to start and increased each day. This will cause less stress to your seedlings when they are transplanted.

  • The next step after hardening is the actual transplanting. Dig a hole in the prepared soil that is large enough for the seedling. Gently remove the entire plant from the pot by pushing from the bottom.  Be sure to keep the entire root ball intact and place into the hole. Press down firmly and cover the entire root system with your prepared soil. Water away from the hole so as not to wash away the soil around the plant.

  • Check plants on a daily basis. You may see slight wilting due to transplant shock. In general plants hate to be moved. In a few days the plants should be upright and “ happy”. Keep them watered as drying out will cause stress and weaken the plant.

As always, please use various resources available to obtain more detailed information. Temperature tolerance and transplanting information is readily available on the internet.

April showers bring May flowers and veggies!! Time to watch your garden grow!