Hands in the dirt: MLT gardening tips for June 2021
In a rare turn, June actually looks like summer this week. Most garden vegetables can be planted now without additional protection. Summer and winter basil, cucumbers and squash can all be sown directly early in the month and may even outgrow seeds sown last month which may have stagnated in cooler weather.
With the weather warmer, it’s time to be water aware – not only your water bill, but the needs of your new seedlings as well. The seeds need constant moisture to break their dormancy, so be sure to maintain moist soils where the seeds were sown directly. I grew to realize that I’m a forgetful gardener and can’t keep the soil moist enough for most seeds, so I started to start most seeds in trays and transplant – even the ones that didn’t. “should not be transplanted” like squash and cucumber. Rules are meant to be broken, right?
Continually picking herbs like thyme, mint, and oregano will lead to bushy plants with lots of new growth. These plants all send out new branches from the leaf nodes (i.e. the armpits of the plant). This is also called “pinch” when applied to plants when you are not using the crop, and can be applied to many flowers. We recommend that you pinch the cosmos and moms, among other things, to get more flowers.
Are you a new tomato grower? Here are three tips to help you this year.
1 – Irrigation or rain water can splash soil on the leaves, which can lead to diseased leaves. You can prevent this by pruning the lower leaves as the plant grows.
2 – indeterminate tomatoes send suckers from the nodes between each leaf and the main branch. You can let them grow, but they eventually deplete the rest of the plant and, depending on the variety, can lead to smaller tomatoes. If you go for giant slicers for tomato sandwiches, pinch those suction cups! Suction cups can be removed by pinching with your fingers when they are small or by cutting with a trimmer when they are larger. (Note: Suckers over 5 inches or so can be planted separately and will root and grow into a new tomato plant!) Check well before pruning small suckers – you don’t want to accidentally cut off a fruiting branch.
3 – most tomatoes benefit from training. There are many ways to trellis tomatoes, from standard tomato cages found at any hardware store, to stakes and twine, to twine hanging from a hanging pole, to weaving plants through a trellis trellis. The right trellis will depend on your growing setup, but a simple cage or large stake will work for most home gardeners.
We have started to organize garden parties again! Watch our Facebook page for announcements.
Do you have a question about gardening? Ask the on our Facebook page.
About the BOG
The Ballinger Organic Garden (BOG) is a volunteer-led effort to develop a community garden at Ballinger Park. The BOG, in partnership with MLT Recreation & Parks and the MLT Senior Center and funded by a grant from the MLT Community Foundation, is currently in “Phase 0” while larger construction activities (stream restoration and trail installation) are completed. Phase 0 involves the maintenance of the existing raised beds and a garden plot on the south side of the MLT Senior Center in Ballinger Park. Phase 1 will involve the installation of a larger garden with plots available for community members to maintain. Do you feel like volunteering, or have an idea of what you want to see in the future garden? Please let us know.
Robyn Rice grew up in eastern Washington, pulling weeds and picking up rotten fruit as dreaded chores assigned by his master gardener father. Today, Robyn is a fisheries biologist for an environmental consulting firm and has been gardening in the Seattle area since 2010. Her scientific knowledge leads to endless research into the “right” way to do things, but her enthusiasm and her sense of adventure lead her to garden fearless because hey, what’s the worst that can happen?