Timely tips for your garden!
Your Community Gardening Newsletter
May 2020 Volume 8 Number 5
Keep gardening, but do it SAFELY
Gardening is a great way to get exercise, fresh air, connect with nature, and relieve stress. Let's Grow Akron notes that "Social distancing while gardening is a great way to stay connected with your neighbors and community in a safe way while contributing to our local food supply." Just be sure to wear masks and gloves, avoid sharing tools, wash your hands, avoid touching your face with unwashed hands, and stay home if you are feeling sick. Also, avoid touching communal surfaces. This includes railings, doorknobs, handles, and other frequently used areas of garden sites. If you touch these surfaces, wash your hands and/or use hand sanitizer immediately.
Upcoming Events
Saturday, May 2, 2020
World Naked Gardening Day! The title pretty much says it all. This year is the 16th annual! Just be sure to use sunscreen and insect repellent, maintain your social distance, and you still should wear a mask! .  

Saturday May 9, 2020
On Western reserve PBS at 7:00 am the GardenSMART program will have community gardeners discussing healthy foods and how to grow them.

All other events have been postponed until further notice.
The Summit County Master Gardeners annual Tour of Gardens for 2020 has been CANCELLED.
In light of the on-going COVID-19 crisis, the Summit County Master Gardeners Volunteers have made the decision to cancel the 2020 Tour of Gardens. This decision was difficult to make but necessary at this time. We anticipate being able to offer a tour in 2021 when all of us hope to be able to come together again to celebrate and recognize outstanding gardens in Summit County and the gardeners who create and love them.
Veggie Garden Coffee Chats have gone VIRTUAL
Coffee chats are being hosted on Zoom on Friday mornings at 10:00. Check out our website for links. Pre-registration is required. BYOCoffee!!
Online Courses from Penn State--Free through May 10th!!
Penn State is offering FREE online courses through May 10th. Click HERE to see the selection.
Were you looking for something to do?
  • Generally, corn can be direct seeded any time after the 2nd week of May
  • Harden off any transplants to be planted later in the garden
  • After May 20th (normally last frost date), plant starts of tomatoes, peppers and eggplants, and direct seed beans, squash, melons, potatoes and cucumbers--but watch the weather!!
  • Harvest rhubarb, spinach, lettuce, radishes, scallions and asparagus
  • Plant seeds for your 2nd or 3rd planting of any cold weather crops
  • Thin seedlings, as needed
  • For succession plantings, plant warm season crops where cool season crops have been harvested
  • Also for succession planting buy seeds now to sow later for a fall harvest.
  • Mulch around plants and in rows to keep soil moist and reduce soil compaction
  • Monitor crops for insect and disease problems regularly
  • Erect plant supports, as needed
  • Revel in the sprouting and blooming of nature! 
The Master Gardener Hotline is Closed until further notice BUT you can email your questions to mgsummitcounty@gmail.com
You can call our Horticulture Hotline to ask a garden-related question and get advice from our experts.
Just call 330-928-GROW (4769) 
Hotline Hours: Tuesday: 9:00 am - noon, March through October
You can also get Master Gardener advice online anytime by submitting questions at   Ask a Master Gardener
 
Interested in starting a vegetable garden?
There has been increased interest in vegetable gardening in the last month. Let's Grow Akron and OSU Extension have created this resource sheet to help you get started.  Click here . The Summit County Master Gardener Volunteers have provided additional info.  Click here
How much to plant?
Pam Bennett, the state Master Gardener Coordinator for Ohio offered the following  estimated yields for 10 popular vegetables in an article in Ohio Gardener Magazine:
  • Tomatoes: 1 plant yields 5 pounds.
  • Lettuce: 8 plants yield 1 salad per person per week.
  • Beets: 1 plant is a 1/4 pound root.
  • Cucumbers: 1 plant yields 5 pounds.
  • Zucchini: 1 plant yields 10 pounds.
  • Bush Beans: 1/4 pound of seed produces 12 1/2 pounds of beans.
  • Peas: 1/4 pound of seed produces 10 pounds of pea pods.
  • Corn: 1 or 2 ears per plant; 2 oz. of seed plants a 50 foot row and yields 50 ears.
  • Potatoes: 5 pounds of seed potatoes yields 50 pounds.
  • Peppers: 1 plant yields 5 pounds.
Seeds or Plants?
Which to use?
  • Seeds are cheaper. 
  • Plants can be quicker.  
  • And some crops are better grown one way than the other.
  • Use plants for tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, cabbage, and broccoli.
  • Direct seed beans, beets, carrots, Swiss chard, cucumbers, lettuce, peas, radishes, spinach, and squash.
  • To save money choose mainly crops you can direct seed. 
For either of them: 
  • Make sure the soil is properly prepared.
  • Plant when you should based on the crop (look at plant labels or the seed packets.)
  • Make sure the soil is not too wet to work.
For seeds:
  • Use the information on the seed packet to determine how deep to plant and whether or not to cover the seed.
  • Press lightly to ensure good soil contact.
  • Water well, but gently, and apply some half-strength liquid fertilizer.
For plants:
  • Look for stocky, full, medium-sized plants. The roots should fill the pots, but should not be pot-bound. Do not get plants that have begun to set fruit.
  • Plant on a cloudy day or in the late afternoon or early evening, to reduce wilting.
  • Make a hole big enough to hold the root-ball.
  • Plant at the same depth the plant was grown (except tomatoes and broccoli, which can be planted more deeply).
  • Firm the plant in gently, to ensure good soil contact.
  • Water the new plants well, but gently, and apply some half-strength liquid fertilizer.
Be on the lookout for Cutworms
Cutworms are the larvae (caterpillars) of night-flying moths in the family Noctuidae. They destroy healthy seedlings by chewing the stem at the soil line. To prevent cutworm damage to your newly set-out seedlings make rings out of strips of paper and place them at the base of the plants so that they stick above the soil line and are pushed at least ½ inch into the soil. Or use paper cups with the bottoms cut out, cut up toilet paper or paper towel rolls, or the paper sleeves from coffee cups. You can even use JUMBO straws, slit length-wise, cut into sections, and wrapped around the stem. These will expand as the plant grows.  
Also be on the lookout for Ticks
The following information is from the Ohio State factsheet Ticks and Tick-Borne Diseases. You can also find Tick information from the Centers for Disease Control .

Ticks are blood-feeding parasites that can significantly impact the quality of life and health of humans and pets. Most importantly, some species of ticks may infect the host with any of several different diseases, which can result in mild to serious illness or death. Proper protection from ticks and prompt removal are crucial to preventing infection.

You can help prevent tick bites by doing the following:
  • Apply a tick repellent, making sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions. Note that DEET formulations of at least 25 percent are needed to repel ticks. Repellents containing permethrin should be applied to clothing only; do not apply directly to exposed skin.
  • Wear light-colored clothing to make it easier to find crawling ticks.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants. Tuck pants into socks, and tuck shirt into pants.
  • Perform tick checks frequently.
  • Remove ticks immediately.
  • Avoid tall grass and weedy areas; stay on paths.
If you find a tick attached to your skin, there's no need to panic. There are several tick removal devices on the market, but a plain set of fine-tipped tweezers will remove a tick quite effectively.
  1. Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin's surface as possible.
  2. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don't twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.
  3. Never crush a tick with your fingers.
  4. After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water.
  5. Save the tick for identification. It is useful to place the tick in a container with hand sanitizer or rubbing alcohol; or wrap the tick inside an alcohol wipe before placing it into a container. The alcohol helps preserve the specimen. Take the tick with you to a healthcare professional if you develop flu-like symptoms.
If you experience fever or flu-like symptoms following a tick bite, immediately contact your healthcare professional and emphasize that you recently were bitten by a tick. Save the tick in some type of container and take it with you to the healthcare professional.  It is very important to receive the appropriate antibiotics as soon as possible.
Quick tips
A quick and easy way to test last year's seeds to see if they are still good is to use one of those weekly pill boxes. Put a little moistened potting soil in each compartment, plant a few seeds in each, close the lids and put the container in a warm spot. Keep the lids closed until the seeds emerge, and check each day to see how they are doing. Once seed start to sprout, open the lids.

Many people keep a compost pail in the kitchen for kitchen scraps. But those scraps can also draw vinegar (fruit) flies. Try putting a zip top bag in your pail and keeping it zipped between additions. You can rinse it out and reuse it after you have emptied it.

Remember what they say about nights in May--Many are cold, but few are frozen. Keep an eye on the weather forecasts.

When you first hook up you hose this spring, run water through it for a few minutes before you put the nozzle or watering wand on it. That will flush out any crud that might clog up your nozzle or spray head.

Small photo albums with plastic sleeves or the sheets used to store baseball cards make great organizers for your seed packets.

To get better germination from your nasturtiums rub a spot on the hard seed coat with an emery board, then soak them overnight in water and place them inside a damp paper towel. Check them every day, and gently plant them out when they just start to sprout.
A little bit about growing  Peppers
Bell peppers, hot peppers, chiles and pimentos are all forms of peppers. Peppers are leafy plants that form pod-like edible fruits after flowering. These fruits can be either sweet or hot. They come in green, yellow, orange, purple or chocolate brown. They can be bell or heart shaped, round, or long and narrow. 
 
Peppers are used raw or cooked, in salads, in salsas, for stuffing, for roasting, and to add flavor to cooked dishes. Immature peppers can be harvested while they are still green, but, if given enough time, most will ripen slowly to other colors. Bell peppers are frequently picked while they are still green, but will become sweeter if allowed to ripen to maturity. They are large, mild flavored and sweet.
 
Hot peppers come in a variety of spicy heat levels.  They should be handled with care as they can cause skin to burn and eyes and mouths to sting. Use gloves, preferably disposable ones, when harvesting fruits. Avoid touching your eyes or mouth.   Immediately wash any area of skin that has been in contact with fruits or gloves; use plenty of water. Keep pets and children away from hot peppers.
 
Peppers like full sun and warm, well drained, light soil, moderately fertile, high in organic matter with abundant phosphorous and high calcium levels with a pH: 6.0 - 6.8.  They like consistent, even moisture, but avoid soggy soil. 

Grow peppers from transplants. Choose stocky, sturdy plants with 3 to 5 sets of true leaves; avoid plants with flowers or fruit. Peppers will not tolerate frost. 
Delay planting until 2 to 3 weeks after all danger of frost is past. Ideally, wait until air temperatures are 70˚F to 80˚F during day and 60˚F and 70˚F at night; do not plant when weather is cold. You can warm the soil with black plastic for a few weeks before planting. Space plants 12" to 24" apart in rows 24" to 36" apart. Water thoroughly after planting.  

Use moderate amount of fertilizer with a 1-2-2 ratio like 5-10-10 or 8-16-16. Too much nitrogen (the first number) can produce lots of leaves at the expense of fruit. When fruit appears, side dress with 12-12-12 fertilizer.

Pull weeds by hand. If not using black plastic, apply about 1" of organic mulch to established plants. If it fails to rain, apply 1" of water per week; water early in the day at base of plant; avoid wetting leaves. Support taller varieties using stakes.

Harvest when fruits are full-sized and firm. Use scissors, a knife or hand pruners; cut fruits cleanly from stems. Use gloves when harvesting hot peppers; avoiding touching eyes, mouth or any area of skin.

Cool or hot temperatures affect fruit production. High daytime temperatures, over 90˚ F, or low temperatures at night, below 60˚ F, can cause blossoms to drop, resulting in fewer fruits. Blossoms can also be lost and fruits can fail to set when plants do not get enough water at bloom time.  

For more information see the  Michigan State Tip Sheet, or the  Cornell Growing Guide.
Some helpful links:

Submit questions online to be answered by Master Gardener Volunteers at   Ask a Master Gardener
OhioLine Yard and Garden  provides fact sheets and information on a variety of gardening topics.
The  Michigan State Tip Sheets,and the  Cornell Growing Guides  also offer lots of gardening information that is suitable for Ohio gardens.


Buckeye Yard and Garden onLine  provides timely information about Ohio growing conditions, pest, disease, and cultural problems.  BYGL is updated weekly between April and October.