Merry Magic May & Happy Mother’s Day to you all!
May is more of April, plus Cantaloupes!
Now you can plant all you did in March, if you did. Santa Barbara night temps were so cool many of us waited. And you can do more of the April heat lovers if you did them! Smart gardeners plant when the time is right, not just because it is that month, time of year. It’s still a bit cool, so many of us are getting a late start this year. Our April 1 jicama planters didn’t put them in until the 3rd week of April this year! Consider growing plant varieties with less days to maturity. We have already lost a month to 6 weeks of planting time.
Some beans are up now if you hit the window right, plant some more if you love beans and don’t mind all that harvesting. Limas too. Plant corn in blocks. Wilt resistant cucumbers with dill, and with radishes to repel the cucumber beetles. Snuggle peppers and eggplant, with radishes as trap plants for flea beetles that attack the eggplant. Okra likes heat. Probably going to be better to wait until June unless you are in the hot foothills? Summer squashes, that includes zucchini and all their friends, pumpkins and melon vines. Winter squash for sure – don’t wait any longer since it needs time to harden as well as grow. Summer lettuce varieties with New Zealand spinach, SloBolt cilantro, arugula. Tomatoes, wilt resistant/tolerant varieties with flavorful basils. Put in Heirlooms only if your soil has no wilts fungi. Tomato planting tips!
Speaking of melons, here are a few you may enjoy in cooler coastal plantings! May and June is great time to direct seed special varieties OR transplant what’s available at the nursery. Put down black plastic for more ground heat; pop on floating row covers to hold heat above ground. Plant in wells to use less water; cut back on water about 3 weeks before harvest – note when that will be per the days to maturity. For patio growing, use black plastic tubs for heat!
- Burpee Sweet and Early Cantaloupe, 75 days, it IS sweet!
- Minnesota Midget Cantaloupe, 65 days, 2 crops, perfect size for trellising and container growing, compact 3 ft vines, 1 – 2 lbs, 4 inch melons, resistant to fusarium wilt!
- Drought tolerant Haogen/OGEN, Ha’ Ogen (Hebrew for “the anchor”), 73 days, skin becomes yellow with green ribbing, 2 – 3 lbs, a tad spicy
- Blacktail Mountain watermelon, 70 days, an Idaho heirloom, doesn’t mind cool and damp, start them early to get more growing days! Also they are heat tolerant and heat resistant!
- Golden Midget watermelon, 70 days, 2 crops, 3-5 lb, yellow golden skin and salmon-pink interior
- Bush Sugar Baby watermelon, early space saver that doesn’t mind cool weather, drought resistant, 80 days, 6 – 10 lb melons
Santa Clara Master Gardeners say here’s how to eat your melons! ‘After you harvest your melons, there are many ways to enjoy them. Melons aren’t just for breakfast anymore. For an easy appetizer, wrap slices of any type of melon with prosciutto or dry salami. Melon cubes or balls are great in fruit salads and for a refreshing treat, squeeze fresh lemon or lime juice over melon wedges. Melons also make a delicious dessert. Top slices with vanilla ice cream, sprinkle with chopped crystallized ginger, or drizzle with hazelnut or orange flavored liqueur.’ Sounds good to me!
Plant more of your year round favorites: beets, carrots, chard, bunch onions, radish, turnips, fragrant herbs. Plant a new patch or replace your Parsley. It’s a biennial, so this year it will bolt rather than produce leaves.
Now through July is Garlic Harvest time, depending on when you planted! If you planted in Oct, harvest is May, Nov is June, Dec is July.
If we get some heat, watering becomes the prime need, put down some mulch. If we have heat, plants will be getting into production and will need feeding for blossoming and fruit production. Too much Nitrogen and they will go more to leaf. Time for Jamaican bat guano, organic box fertilizers high in Phosphorus – that’s the middle number, like 0-10-0 ! Or get some Seabird Guano! It is high in phosphorus, promotes healthy root growth, greatly increases the number of flowers, increases the available phosphorus in the soil and enhances beneficial bacteria activity in the soil! It is good to use generally just before your plants flower or you see the first flowers! Manure choices Maxicrop is a great choice, and fish emulsion/kelp to give your strawberries every couple of weeks or if leaves start paling or yellowing.
If the weather remains coolish, and you have a greenhouse or a warm sunny spot inside, start some more seedlings! They can be used as the next round you plant, as fillers for spots that empty as plants finish, or a gopher gets them, sigh, or to replace plants that haven’t done well. Plant your favorites, of course!
Have you lined up your Mother’s Day gift yet?! Make lovely Lavender sachets!