Editor’s note: Get Growing, written by the La Plata County Extension Office’s Master Gardener Program, appears every other week during the growing season. It features timely tips and suggestions for your garden and landscape.
By Darrin Parmenter
Ah yes, the first week of June. That time when it should be safe – and wise – to put our warm-season vegetables in the ground.
These are the crops that cannot withstand temperatures below 32 degrees and appreciate soil temperatures in the 70s or higher.
Tomatoes: The garden diva. I prefer to plant my tomatoes deeply, pruning off the lower leaves and keeping 3 or more sets of leaves (branches) above ground. The plant will send out roots from the buried stem (at the leaf nodes) and will provide a stronger root system as the plant grows. If flowers or fruit are present, pinch them off so the carbohydrates can go to the vegetative material rather than the reproductive parts. Your plants, and BLT sandwich, will thank you later.
Beans: Be patient after you direct-seed your beans – they can take six to 10 days to germinate. Space your plants closely – 4 to 6 inches apart. Once the plant starts flowering, make sure you give it plenty of water. Increase water to ¼ to ½ inch of water a day (definitely not xeric!) when the pods are forming.
Vine crops: I prefer to direct-seed these crops (cucumbers, melons, squash and zucchini) rather than using transplants. If you do go with the transplants, look for small plants, preferably in peat, or biodegradable, pots to reduce transplant shock. The good thing about direct seeding is if soil temperatures are warm, then seeds should germinate and emerge in a couple of days. Make sure you give these plants plenty of room to run.
Corn: A wind-pollinated crop, corn should not be planted in a single row, but rather in blocks that are at least four to five rows wide. What we don’t want is for the prevailing wind to blow the pollen from the tassels away from the female reproductive structure, or the silks. Higher yields are found when adequate water (especially when the plant is producing silks), nitrogen (throughout the summer) and space (optimum is 30 inches between rows and 8 inches between plants) is given.
email@example.com or 382-6464. Darrin Parmenter is director and horticulture agent of the La Plata County Extension Office.