5/31/13: In the garden this week

Late spring vegetable plot--nothing but promise.

A vegetable garden in late spring is nothing but promise. We’ve been picking delicious greens for several weeks, the borers have not attacked the squash plants yet, and the fungal diseases have not splotched and distorted the tomatoes.

Here’s what you should do in your garden this week:

— plant tender vegetables such as tomatoes, squash, eggplants, basil, and cucumbers if you haven’t already done so. Every few days, wipe down the stems of summer squash plants to remove the eggs of squash vine borers.

— continue to seed beans, chard, kale, beets, carrots, and turnips as space becomes available. I try to put in at least half a row of beans every couple of weeks to ensure a continuous harvest. Within the next few weeks, I will be pulling out arugula and other greens that have gone to seed, and this will free up some space for summer crops.

— prune spring-blooming shrubs after they finish blooming, and remove spent flowers on lilacs and rhododendrons so the plant puts its energy into making new flower buds for next year.

— when the weather gets hot (and it got very hot this week), I stop planting perennials and woody plants. In general, plants like to make new roots when it’s cool and top growth when it’s warm, so it’s difficult to establish new plants in hot weather.

— we had several inches of rain this past week, so avoid watering the lawn. It really, really doesn’t need it. And the more you water, the more you will have to mow.  The only things that need watering are newly established plants, which need supplemental watering for a whole season or, in the case of trees, sometimes longer.

Enjoy the first taste of summer and, especially, the expectation of summer tomatoes and basil.

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