Late spring is a busy time in the southern edible garden. English peas, spinach, chard and strawberries are ready for harvest, and it is time to tuck warm-season crops into the soil to bask in the heat of summer. Seeds that can be planted from late April to mid-May include sweet corn, crook neck and zucchini squashes, okra, cucumbers, melons, and what we southerners refer to as southern peas.
Transplants of heat-loving veggies like tomatoes, peppers and eggplant and slips of sweet potatoes can still be planted. When choosing plants from nurseries and garden centers, look for young, compact plants with healthy root systems.
Good food production requires strong healthy plants. Keep your plants in shape by providing plenty of water and food. You can do both at the same time by using Miracle-Gro® Liquafeed® All Purpose Plant Feeding System when you water. Reduce the competition for water and nutrients by eliminating weeds, and control insect pests as soon as you see them.
Locate your edible garden in the sunniest area of your landscape. Most vegetables produce best in a location with full sun but a site with at least six hours of direct sunlight can still be productive. Incorporate lots of organic matter into your soil. Compost, composted manure and leaf mold are nutrient-rich, easy-to-find sources of organic material. You can also mix in Miracle-Gro® Moisture Control® Garden Soil to increase organic material and help retain moisture in the soil.
After planting seeds and transplants, water your plants in well. Seeds need frequent watering until they germinate. Water transplants deeply once a week. If the garden has not received one inch of rain for a week, supplemental water is essential. Deep, weekly watering encourages good root growth. Frequent, shallow watering promotes surface roots that dry out quickly during summer drought. Conserve water by using a drip irrigation system that sends water directly to the roots. Overhead watering can create disease problems and water loss through evaporation. Keep the water where you put it with a two- to three-inch layer of mulch, such as Scotts® Nature Scapes®. In addition to retaining moisture, mulching maintains an even soil temperature and aids in holding weeds at bay.
Many summer-growing veggies are heavy feeders that require supplemental fertilizer during the growing season. Keep leaves deep green and plants growing strong by feeding on a regular schedule and your reward will be an abundance of summer produce.