Bev Johnson

Master Gardener

How was your garden last summer? Not as productive as you would like? If so, here are a few things to try.

If you have problems with potato bugs, don’t plant your spuds until the last week in June, or even the first week of July.  By this time, the potato bugs have erupted and found no potatoes to lay eggs on and have either died, left the area or had a bit of a snack on your tomatoes or eggplant. You will still have a lot of spuds but they may not be as large as if you planted them earlier.  As soon as you see flowers, you can put your fingers under the plant a pull out a few “new” potatoes. No need to dig up the whole plant.

Plant a row of pollinator flowers in your vegetable garden. This will attract pollinators and help ensure your crops will be pollinated. Our pollinators are getting thin on the ground so you want to attract as many as you can. Add a few old-fashioned zinnias for the butterflies.

Instead of planting your corn in one long row, plant 4 short ones. To get a longer crop, plant several varieties with different days to maturity. One caveat, be sure you plant all the same types. There are at least 4 different types: normal, designated 3u, sh2, synergistic and se/sh2.

Sugary enhanced, se.  have a gene that enhances tenderness and sweetness and have a longer harvest period. Some may be designated se+. They are even sweeter. They are O.K with se corn but must be isolated from sh2. Sh2 is a super sweetcorn. It has a “shrunken” gene that enhances sweetness and produces kernels that are crisp and juicy. They stay sweet up to 10 days. If crossed with other corns including field corn, they will be almost inedible. They need to be at lest 25 feet from other garden corn and 200 feet from field corn. Synergistics, se/sh2 are a combination of 75% se kernels and 25% sh2. The result is a blend of sugary enhanced sweet corn with higher sugar levels and better keeping qualities of the sh2 types. These can be planted with se varieties but must be isolated from all the others.

Now that you have that figured out, Bunkey plants 5 kernels of 70 to 75 day corn in one end of 4 rows, then 5 kernels of 80 day corn on each of the 4 rows followed by 85 day. This way he has corn all summer. Pull the corn that is done bearing. Why feed empty stalks? He is only feeding 2 people so you may want to plant more than 5 of each variety.

Plant spring greens on the north side of your corn. It will last longer and bolt later. If you carefully pull or cut just what you need for a meal. It will last longer.

Be sure to cover the soil around your tomatoes when you plant them. Damp newspaper works great.  This will prevent soil borne diseases from infecting your plants. Most tomato diseases are in the soil. Protect them from the wind for at least 10 days.

If your cook likes to use celery, plant some. The seeds are very slow to germinate so buy started plants. Protect them from wind and full sun for a bout a week after planting. They will not look like the celery from the store. The stalks will be smaller and dark green but boy, do they have flavor. Petunia chops the stalks up at the end of the year and freezes them in batches just right for a hot dish or a pot of soup.

Here’s for a prolific garden this year.