Gardening with Penn State Master Gardeners #4

28 to 80 Degrees in two days!   Outdoor Gardening Time!

Our last segment focused on the planting process and timetable for cold and warm weather crops. It looks like May 15th was a pretty good guideline for getting plants outside (knocking on wood as I write).

So now you can get the warm weather plants and seeds such as tomatoes, pepper, squash into the garden and let the growth begin.

Here are a few tips for moving forward with your garden:

  • Give the soil a few days to warm up before rushing out to plant. The air temperature is 75 but it has been cold and the soil takes a bit longer to warm. Soil temperature for warm weather crops will vary but 60 to 70 degrees is a good range.

  • When planting your seeds be sure to read the packet or refer to online other sources to determine correct spacing and depth. As seedlings emerge you may need to thin in order to ensure strong healthy plants.

  • The germination of the seeds depends upon the variety that you chose. The information on the packet will provide a good guideline. Veggies such as radishes give instant gratification and can pop in 3 days while others such as beans and squash may take a week. Germination is also dependent on soil conditions and temperature. (Be Patient)

  • In about 4 or 5 days after planting the ultimate question arises: How do I control weeds? There are several options; you may have already placed a weed barrier in the garden prior to planting. If not organic mulch, organic spray (read the label to ensure safety) and homemade recipes all work to an extent. The most effective and safest is mechanical weed control. Definition: Hands and knees pulling! Cmon its good exercise in fresh air!

  • Last but not least is to keep a close eye on seedlings and transplants in the first couple of weeks. If there are a few spots where seeds did not germinate not to worry just replant. You have plenty of time at least through Memorial Day to get seeds in the ground. Keep everything moist but do not overwater. Watering in the early morning is recommended at a rate of about 1 to 2 gallons per week depending on the plant. Adequate rainfall generally provides this amount quite easily in May and June.

Please refer to the many resources that are available online and in books for more detailed information and answers to your questions.  The Master Gardeners will provide updates and tips throughout the summer. In the meantime stay healthy, safe and have a great time growing your crops.