Timely tips for your garden!
Your Community Gardening Newsletter
June 2021 Volume 9 Number 6
Upcoming Events
Wednesday, June 2, 2021
Summit County Master Gardeners are hosting a Spring Educational Series in April, May and June.
How to Grow Terrific Tomatoes, presented by Lee Paulson. Lee Paulson, Summit County Master Gardener and “Mr. Tomato”, will share his time hewn wisdom and advice for growing the tastiest and most prolific tomatoes.
What is the most popular vegetable in US gardens? The tomato, of course. Navigating your way through the different selections, determining the best planting techniques, and dealing with the pests and diseases that may come your way can be challenging.  Click HERE to register. The class is FREE. All classes are being held at 6:30 PM.

Thursday, June 10, 2021
Seasonal Cooking Workshop with Let's Grow Akron. Local chefs will be preparing a budget friendly, seasonal dish with fresh produce available at the Summit Lake Neighborhood Farmers' market and /or Let's Grow Akron Community Farm Market. Class starts at 5:00 PM. Kale Berry Salad with Chef Dannika Stevenson. Click HERE to sign up.
 
Wednesday, June 23, 2021
Useful Beauty: Garden Lessons from the Service Gardens at Stan Hywet 
With increased interest in garden spaces that are both productive and beautiful, the presentation draws lessons from that historic garden space that we can incorporate into our sustainable home landscapes.
Brian Gregory, Senior Horticulturist Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens bgregory@stangtwer.org
We are not able to meet in person at this time so the Summit County Master Gardeners and the Summit Metro Parks are bringing Meet Me in the Garden to you virtually. All presentations are held on the fourth Wednesday of the month at 6:30 PM via Zoom. Click HERE to sign up.

Past Online Programs 
The State Master Gardener Coordinator for Ohio presented a series of webinars last spring and summer on a variety of topics. If you are interested in seeing what they were and watching some, or all, of them, click HERE.
 
The United States Botanic Garden is sharing virtual tours, online programs (including weekly online yoga and cooking demos), plant spotlight stories, at-home activities for kids and families including coloring pages and lesson plans, videos, and more. As the Garden celebrates its 200th anniversary this year, it's also sharing photos and stories from its deeply-rooted history. Check out all they have going on HERE.
Were you looking for something to do?
  • Continue to harvest asparagus, lettuce, radishes, peas, spinach, onions, beets and carrots
  • Continue seeding corn and beans every few week for a continual harvest
  • Replace cold weather crops that are bolting
  • Weed and thin planted crops
  • Water deeply 1x/week if there has not been enough rain 
  • Fertilize all vegetables mid-month (fertilize corn 2x this month)
  • Stake or cage tomatoes 
  • Monitor regularly for insects and disease problems and take needed measures to control damage
  • Plant cucumbers, watermelons, squashes (including pumpkins), and annual flowers
  • Take time to fully appreciate the long, warm days of summer and the flourishing summer garden!  
The Master Gardener Hotline is OPEN for the Season!
You can call our Horticulture Hotline to ask a garden-related question and get advice from our experts.
Just call 234-226-6633.
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
2021 is the Year of the Sunflower!
The National Garden Bureau has designated 2021 the Year of the Sunflower. The Bureau notes that sunflowers are one of the most popular plant genera and are associated with positivity and optimism. Something we all could use more of! The Bureau explains that sunflowers originated in the Americas, and domesticated seeds have been found in Mexico dating back to 2100 BCE. Sunflowers were taken to in the 1500s and spread throughout Europe and Asia. By the early 1800s farmers in Russia were growing 2 million acres of sunflowers for oil. Vincent Van Gogh painted a world-famous series of five still-life sunflowers, (Click Here to see one) and the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam has teamed with a plant breeder to develop the “Sunrich-Van Gogh’s Favorite” series of sunflowers. As part of the celebration the National Garden Bureau is sponsoring a a #YearoftheSunflower video contest, designed to inspire creative videos from anyone and everyone. Entry is easy! There are six different ways to enter, including five social media platforms where all you need is the hashtag #YEAROFTHESUNFLOWER to have an entry. Submissions should be 30-60 seconds in length but should not exceed 60 seconds. The videos may be skits, animations, testimonials or other types of videos, as long as they feature and promote sunflowers. Visit https://ngb.org/sunflower-video-contest/ for complete details. And for more information about the Year of the Sunflower, click HERE.
Pollinator Workbook!
As part of their distance learning program Saguaro (Sah-war-o) National Park has created a Pollinator Workbook. And you don't need to be in the Sonoran Desert to enjoy using it. It has activities aimed at users from grades 2-12, but anyone can enjoy browsing through it and learning something about plants and pollinators. To get a copy just click HERE.
Plants you should know and avoid!
Plants can't run away from threats, they have to stand their ground. So they have evolved many forms of defenses. Some of these can be toxic to humans and pets. so it pays to be informed and aware.
Poison Ivy: Secretes a sticky oil that causes rash and blisters. Leaves of three, let it be. Don't be a dope, stay away from the hairy rope.
Pokeweed: This plant is "toxic from head to toe". Long clusters of poisonous berries hang from pink stems.
Poison Hemlock: Blooms look like Queen Anne's Lace, but stems are smooth, dappled with purple spots.
Giant Hogweed: This is he worst!! An invasive plant that can grow 10" tall with large lobed leaves and white, umbrella-shaped flower clusters. Sap causes horrible blisters and burns.

To learn how to identify (and therefore avoid) the first three look them up in the Ohio Weed Guide. For Giant Hogweed see the Factsheet. You might also check out Avoiding Skin Irritations and Injuries Caused by Plants.
There is one born every minute!
Suckers that is. On tomato plants. According to the OSUE fact Sheet on tomatoes, "suckers
are the new growth that appears in the leaf axile between the stem and a leaf. If left to grow, a sucker can become another strong stem with flowers and fruit. Tomato suckers can directly compete with the main stem for nutrients, water, and sunlight, thus weakening the main stem."

Whether and how much to prune depends on the type of tomato and how you are growing it. According to OSUE, pruning is more critical in indeterminate tomatoes than determinate ones. Determinate tomatoes have short to medium vine lengths and are are heavily branched. Growth stops when they start flowering, and every branch tends to end up with a flower cluster. Indeterminate tomatoes continue to grow and produce leaves and flowers until the first frost. 

According to Illinois Extension, indeterminate tomatoes "are heavily pruned when trellised, moderately pruned when staked, and lightly pruned when caged." 

Pruning, which in tomatoes involves removing the suckers, can be done in two ways. 

The first is to simply break off the suckers with your fingers. This is preferable to cutting since diseases can be transmitted on your knife or shears. Cornell suggests pruning "tomatoes to one or two vigorous stems by snapping off "suckers" (stems growing from where leaf stems meet the main stem) when they are 2 to 4 inches long." Illinois suggests you should "Limit the branches of indeterminate varieties to two to three fruit producing branches by selecting the main stem, the sucker that develops immediately below the first flower cluster, and another sucker below that. " Illinois notes that you should periodically remove additional suckers that develop on the selected branches.

The second pruning method, according to OSUE, "is called Missouri pruning, which is done by pinching off the growing tip of the sucker just beyond the first two leaflets of a sucker. The advantage of this method is that there is more foliage left for photosynthesis (food production) and better leaf cover to help protect the developing fruits from sun-scald."

Cornell notes that "staking and pruning indeterminate varieties can hasten first harvest by a week or more, improve fruit quality, keep fruit cleaner, and make harvest easier. Staking and pruning usually reduces total yield, but fruits will tend to be larger. Staked and pruned plants are also more susceptible to blossom end rot and sunscald."

Some people prune, some do not. If you have several tomatoes, why not try it both ways and see which you prefer.
Succession Planting, a great way to increase your yield.
According to Wikipedia, succession planting refers to several planting methods that increase crop availability during a growing season by making efficient use of space and timing.
Succession planting is easy to do, and can make your garden more productive. It just takes a bit of planning.
1. Stagger your planting
Instead of planting all your crop at once, plant some of the same crop every 2-4 weeks to give a steady supply.  Here are some crops suited to this approach: Lettuce , Beets , Beans, Green Onions and Cilantro.

2. Plant cool weather crops spring and fall
For fall planting count backward from your fall frost date (mid-October for us) using the days to maturity plus time for harvest.
Peas-mid-July
Lettuce-Late July-early August
Kale-1st week of July
Spinach-1st week of August

 3. Follow one crop with another
Plant a quick-growing or early season crop, and then after harvest follow it with another crop.
Radishes followed by onions or carrots
Peas followed by beans
Lettuce followed by Swiss chard

4.Stagger maturity dates
With long season crops, like tomatoes or corn, choose varieties with different maturity dates.
The days to maturity for 'Fourth of July' tomato is 49 days; 'Early Girl' is 65 days; 'Better Boy' is 72 days; and 'Big Mama' is 80 days.

5.Stagger your harvest
You can plant your crop more closely and harvest "baby" vegetables or you can harvest at different times for different uses. Space carrots or onions at half the growing distance and harvest every-other-one just before they start to crowd. Harvest dill or cilantro leaves, then let the seeds mature and harvest those (cilantro seeds are coriander). Pick off a few beet greens for salad, then let the root mature to harvest later. Harvest only the outer leaves of kale and Swiss chard and let the plant keep growing.

Thomas Jefferson's only published horticultural work was "A General Gardening Calendar," a monthly guide to kitchen gardening that appeared in a May 21, 1824 edition of the American Farmer, a Baltimore periodical of progressive agriculture. In it Jefferson instructed gardeners to plant a thimble full of lettuce seed every Monday morning from February 1 to September 1. That is succession planting! And if succession planting was good enough for the author of the Declaration of Independence shouldn't YOU give it a try?
Be on the lookout for:
Squash Vine Borers overwinter as pupae or larvae in the soil and emerge as moths when 1000 base 50 degree days have accumulated (late June/early July). (For real-time information on where we stand on Growing Degree Days go to http://www.oardc.ohio-state.edu/gdd/ and enter your zip code.) Females are active for about 3 weeks, and lay dull red, 1/25th inch diameter eggs, glued to the leafstalks and stems of squash vines, pumpkins, gourds, cucumbers and muskmelons.

Winter squash (in particular Hubbard), pumpkins, and zucchini are quite susceptible to borer damage. When the eggs hatch the larvae bore into the stems destroying vascular tissue and causing wilting. The point where a borer enters a stem is marked by a hole with yellow granular or sawdust-like frass (bug poop) coming out from it.
As a preventative measure, you should look for eggs during the active period and destroy them. Lightweight row covers can be used to protect plants until the vines come into flower. Row covers used to prevent insects from reaching the crop must be anchored down on all sides or the moths will crawl under them. Be sure to remove covers at bloom time to allow for pollination. If you do get SVBs you can perform surgery on the stem to remove larvae and bury the infested stems to encourage new roots. At the end of the season destroy crop residue to reduce overwintering. For more information see the University of Minnesota Fact Sheet.
Cabbage worms. You probably don't care if it is a cabbage looper, the caterpillar of the diamondback moth, or an imported cabbage worm (the caterpillars of those fluttering white butterflies), you just don't want them munching your cole crops (kale, cabbage, broccoli, etc.). There are several strategies you can use. Floating row cover can exclude the egg laying adults. Just be sure to bury all the edges. You can inspect the plants frequently, especially under the leaves, for eggs and larvae and remove them. You can also plant sweet alyssum and other small-flowering ornamentals around your garden to encourage the tiny wasps that parasitize the caterpillars.
You can get more info on these guys, and how to control them from the  University of Minnesota Fact Sheet.
What the heck is Floating Row Cover??
According to the University of Wisconsin Master Gardeners "Floating row cover is a spun-bonded or woven plastic, polyester or polypropylene material that is placed over plants to exclude pests, act as a windbreak or extend the growing season by retaining heat — all while still being permeable to light, water and air." The material comes in different weights depending on the purpose. Heavier materials offer more frost protection, but also allow less light and rain through. Lighter weight materials are used to exclude pests while admitting more light and water. Row cover can also be used as part of the seed sowing or hardening off process, to protect your seedling and your young plants. Care must be taken to check your crops under row covers regularly for any pests or weeds that might have gotten in. And row cover must be removed when the plants are ready to flower, to allow pollination. For more info on using row covers see this ARTICLE.
To weed, or not to weed, that is the question.
According to Felder Rushing, "a weed is a plant having to deal with an unhappy human". And whatever your attitude toward weeds, it is a good idea to know what you are dealing with. It is helpful to know if your plant is an annual, a biennial, or a perennial. Does it have a taproot or a fibrous root system. Will digging part of it out produce countless more of the plants springing from the roots you left behind? Or are you even sure it is something that you don't want? Plants can be tricky to identify, especially when they are small, and you wouldn't be the first gardener to pull out something that you didn't mean to. Knowledge is power! If you prefer your information in book form, consider Weeds of the Northeast, in a new second edition. If digital is the way you roll, check out Virginia Tech's Weed ID.
Quick tips
Permanent Markers Aren't! Try using a No. 2 pencil on your labels.

If you use tomato cages, slice open a section of old garden hose and use it to cover the top ring so that the wire does not cut into the stems of your tomatoes as they grow.  

Speaking of tomato cages, instead of putting your plant labels in the soil, tie them to the tops of your cages, so you will be able to see them when the plants are grown.

You can make garden scoops, for fertilizer, potting soil, etc. from plastic jugs. Just cut off the bottom diagonally. (Mark the line to cut with a pencil or marker, and cut with heavy scissors or tin snips.) Use different size jugs for different size scoops. With the cap left on it is a scoop. With the cap off it is a funnel. 

Drive sturdy stakes at the ends of rows to keep you from dragging the hose through your plantings. 

Plant some of your parsley in a large, deep pot sunk in the ground. Then you can dig it up and bring it inside in the fall for winter use. Cut it back some when you bring it in. 

Seed packets on a stick don't last, and "permanent" markers fade. For a permanent label save some aluminium pie pans or frozen food trays. Cut out labels of the size you want, and then put them on several sheets of newspaper and use a ballpoint pen and light pressure to "emboss" them with the names of your plants. 
A little bit about growing Sunflowers, for the Year of the Sunflower
Sunflowers (Helianthus spp) come in a variety of sizes and colors. The sunflower head is not a single flower (as the name implies) but is made up of 1,000 to 2,000 individual flowers joined at a common receptacle. Some sunflowers can be 12 feet tall (one was grown in Germany in 2014 that was 30' 1"!), others are just 2 feet tall. Some have been specifically bred for edible seed production, like Feed The Birds, Mongolian Giant, Skyscraper, Super Snack Mix, Titan. There is even one, Helianthus tuberosus, that is grown for its edible tubers--commonly known as Jerusalem artichoke. Some have lots of pollen, great for pollinators, some are sterile with no pollen (or seeds), for cutting for floral displays. Some have a single stem, and plantings tend to come in all at once. Others are branching and tend to have a longer period of bloom. Some are perennial, but most grown in gardens are annuals. Whatever your preference, there is a sunflower for you.

As you might expect, sunflowers like full sun. And well drained soil, though they are fairly tolerant of other soil types. A pH of 6.0 - 6.8 is best. Sunflowers are easy to direct sow into the garden after danger of frost has passed (hopefully by now). Plant the seeds about one inch deep. For short varieties space them six inches apart, for tall single stem varieties or shorter branching varieties space them about a foot apart. If you are growling the giant or mammoth varieties, two-foot spacing is best. If you would like to start them indoors start the seeds in a biodegradable pot so that you can plant the whole pot in the garden without disturbing the roots. Be sure to trim off the top of the pot before planting and bury the rim, so it does not wick moisture from the plant.

If you want to have blooms all through the season do some succession planting as discussed above. Stagger your planting at two to three week intervals, plant varieties with different maturity dates, or do a combination of both.

Although sunflowers can tolerate some drought be sure to water as they get larger and toward flowering size to promote root growth to help keep them from toppling over. You can also use stakes and cages to help keep them upright. Sid-dressing with some balanced slow-release fertilizer after the plants are well established will produce larger flowers.

If you want to use some of your sunflowers as cut flowers cut them when the petals just begin to open, if possible early in the morning. Cut off any leaves that will be below the water line and place in fresh water and change the water daily.

For more information on growing Sunflowers see the University of Minnesota Fact Sheet
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.