Helen Hallpenny | May 01, 2019

My seed orders have arrived and some seeds are already growing , but as I wait impatiently for the real spring to arrive I have browsed once more through seed catalogues and realized just how much information is in them. Not only do seed companies offer dozens more varieties than local stores can carry, the catalogues contain germination guides ,excellent photos , culture tips, diseases and pests to watch for, and nifty gadgets and tools to make your gardening easier. I pass along some of the good growing tips that I have gleaned from Johnny’s Selected seeds, Vesey’s, and Wm. Dam Seed.

Go ahead and gamble. Early beans are worth the risk. It’s true that beans hate frost. But a “cheater” row of beans planted two weeks before the last frost date is worth the risk. If they aren’t nipped by frost, you have moved ahead your bean harvest. If they do get hit with frost, you have lost nothing more than a few seeds and can replant.

Use care when harvesting asparagus to avoid damage to spears that have yet to emerge. Remove dead ferns in fall to help prevent asparagus beetle infestation.

Early maturing cabbage varieties may split or burst at maturity from rapid new growth if heavy rain follows a dry spell. Splitting may be partly avoided by slowing growth. To accomplish this, cultivate close to plants to sever some of the root system, or by slightly twisting the plant.

When planting in dry or windy weather, sow the seed in moist soil, then cover with a wide board to retain the moisture until the seeds germinate. Then remove it. This works very well with succession plantings of salad crops.

Hot peppers are becoming popular in home gardens and they come in many shapes, sizes flavours and heat. Measured in Scovilles, peppers range from mild to blistering hot. Jalapenos are in the 25005000 range while Habenero peppers can range up to 500,000 (not for the faint of heart)

To prevent and control tomato diseases use varieties that are noted as disease resistant, do not grow tomatoes where there have been tomatoes, peppers, potatoes or eggplant for at least three years, do not overcrowd, water in the morning or use drip irrigation, and mulch to retain soil moisture.

Monarch caterpillars eat only milkweed during their life, but the adult butterflies have a more varied diet that includes aster, buddleja, echinacea, verbena and zinnia. Butterflies like flowers that give them a platform to hold on to while they sip nectar, such as achillea, rudbeckia, tithonia, and zinnias. Bees love broccoli. Leave some of your cole crops to bolt to provide a month of food for bees.

If deer are hungry, they will eat almost anything, but here is a list of plants they will avoid until that point: ageratum, aster, borage, cleome, foxglove, marigolds, poppies, rosemary, salvia, thyme, verbena and zinnia.

In a year of extreme heat and drought, gardeners often look to grow plants that can survive arid conditions. These include agastache, celosia, cosmos, dusty miller, gomphrena, lavender, marigold, portulaca sage, sedum and vinca.

Written by Helen Hallpenny who is a member of the Lanark County Master Gardeners. Want to know more about the Master Gardeners group or ask a gardening question? Visit our website at www.lanarkmg.blogspot. com or contact us at lanarkmg@ gmail.com

Support local
independant journalism by becoming a patron of the Frontenac News.