Wednesday, Apr 25, 2018
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio

Kelly Heidbreder

Seedlings can go into garden now

You've been fussing with those seedlings for months, and now they should be ready to go it on their own. Let's clear out some of the mess in the kitchen and get those plantlets into your garden.

First, get the backyard garden plot warmed up. If you didn't run through the garden last fall to till what was left over from your harvest, now is the time to turn the soil over. Some cool-season vegetables could have been planted in April. May is the month to plant warm-season crops.

After doing a soil test, add some composted manure to your garden, plus any other ingredients suggested by the soil lab. I like to add a slow-release fertilizer and a soil moisture retainer. This helps smaller planters on your deck too.

Mark planting rows for the garden. If the rows were planted east to west last season, plant them north to south this year. This will give your plants a fresh spot in the garden, which helps when it comes to disease and fungus that likes to live in the soil.

It is also a good time to rotate the position of your crops. If the tomatoes and peppers have been in the same location for the past three years, you should switch them with the corn and beans this season.

Don't forget to mark the rows and make notes in your garden journal of what veggies were planted, date of planting, and any weather observations that could be helpful for next year. For example, it would be important to note heavy rain conditions over the past few weeks. Check your rain gauge and keep those notes in your garden journal.

Make sure your garden plot is relatively dry, not muddy, when you start tilling and planting. Muddy soil will turn into concrete if you get in there too early. Let the spot dry out before you dig. Once the soil is light and fluffy again, you will be ready to plant. Take your seedlings outdoors in baby steps, for short periods of time, to harden them off. Then you can slip your seedlings in the soil, thinning them out as you go. Remember, they will get bigger within the next couple of months, so give them some room.

You can also put seeds directly into the soil and not wait for them to sprout in your house. The soil temperatures are warm enough for them to make it on their own outside.

Don't forget to support climbing plants such as sweet pea or tall plants such as tomatoes. These will need support within a month so you want to do it right away. You can also get a little clever and grow your peas or beans on a trellis or arbor over a walkway through your garden or around a gazebo. Your vegetables don't have to stay in that square spot in the middle of the yard. You can blend them into the rest of your landscape.

If you have tricks for working fruits and vegetables into your regular perennial garden, send me an e-mail.

You'd be surprised what you can grow around your yard, even if the only perennial you know how to manage is the grass in your lawn.

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