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GARDENER’S CHECKLIST: Week of May 13, 2021

Things to do this week: get ready to plant string beans, move strawberries, and go after tent worms.

* Use a carpenter’s nail apron for holding seed packets when planting vegetable and flower seeds. The cotton/canvas type of apron only costs a few dollars; it can sometimes be obtained free at certain building supplies stores.

* Save the tags from annual plants purchased this year. The tags contain useful information on the plants’ environmental preferences and their care. Keeping the tags will also serve as a reminder of what was planted this year.

Make the first sowing of green beans next week. Make additional sowings at two-week intervals until July.

* Make the first sowing of green beans next week. Make it a small planting since soils are still a bit cool and wet. Therefore, seed germination may not be all that great. For continuous harvest through the summer, make successive sowings of bush type green beans at two week intervals into early July. This way, I’ve been able to get a continuous harvest with French fillet beans (haricot vert) and with pole beans.

* If space allows, plant extra vegetables this year. Food pantries will be able to use all the surplus produce they can get.

* Begin regular tours of the landscape and garden to scout for pests and diseases. As the weather slowly warms, pests are becoming more prominent. In the vegetable garden, look for flea beetles, aphids, and cutworms. In the landscape, look for spider mites on needled evergreens and tent caterpillars on fruit trees, crabapples and ornamental cherries.

* Plant balloon flower (Platycodon grandiflorus) with mid-summer blooming daylilies. The blue flowers of balloon flower make a great color combination with yellow flowering varieties of daylily. Even without the companionship of daylilies, balloon flower is an attractive perennial for any flower border.

Tent caterpillars must love to go camping as their tents can often be seen now on fruit trees, crabapples and ornamental cherries. Photo courtesy Iowa State University

* Avoid planting new strawberry, raspberry, and blackberry plants in the same areas where these fruit had been growing previously. Certain diseases common to these fruits can build up in the soil and infect the new plants.

* Carefully examine trees and shrubs now that they have leafed out or have begun to do so. Look for dead and damaged branches. Prune off any branches which are dead or damaged.

* Get out weeding tools and sharpen hoes. Weeds are growing fast but their roots are not yet very extensive. So, get the weeds out now before they get a foot…..err, roothold.

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It is interesting to watch people shop at garden centers and nurseries during the spring. Almost everything the average consumer buys is in flower. Since most plant purchases are made in May and June, it is no wonder that home landscapes are so colorful during those months. Nothing excites a gardener more than a plant in bloom.

I have no problem with that since I have the same tendencies. It takes a lot of imagination to visualize a plant that is now only a whorl of a few green shoots and see it as it will be when in full bloom this summer or fall. It also takes a lot of faith that those plants will be worth the expenditure.

Many plant labels now have color pictures on them, making purchasing decisions easier. I also rely a lot on my collection of books on perennials – the ones with pretty pictures – and on photos that I have taken during the summer and fall of gardens I’ve visited. Taking a little time to do some research on summer and fall blooming plants will be well worth the effort for anyone who wants a display of color in landscape throughout the growing season.


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While we busily plant our annuals as a rite of the start of summer, just like Memorial Day, don’t neglect your perennial gardens.


I mentioned spongy moth caterpillars briefly last week. I hear Columbia County in New York has a tremendous outbreak now.

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The Edge Is Free To Read.

But Not To Produce.