Timely tips for your garden!
Your Community Gardening Newsletter
May 2021 Volume 9 Number 5
Keep gardening 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 1, 2021
World Naked Gardening Day! The title pretty much says it all. This year is the 17th annual! Just be sure to use sunscreen and insect repellent, maintain your social distance, and you still should wear a mask!. 

May 5, 2021
Summit County Master Gardeners are hosting a Spring Educational Series in April, May and June.
Not Your Grand Mother's Container, presented by Diane Fort. Diane will share her 30 years of greenhouse experience with us, having worked at both Donzell's and Suncrest Gardens.
We all know how to put the usual suspects into a pot and call it a container. Spike, geranium and petunia – check them off the thriller, filler and spiller columns. Let’s think beyond those usual plants and consider adding some spice to the mixture. Diane Fort designs gardens and pots for local gardens and will show us how to put a unique container combination together, and how to make it long lasting and visually exciting. Click HERE to register. The class is FREE. All classes are being held at 6:30 PM.

May 13, 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. Search Let's Grow Akron on Facebook to sign-up.

May 20, 2021
Crown Point Ecology Presents: Mindfulness Through Mature and the Senses with Jen Griest Hayes. This is the second in a four-part series. Nutrition & Lifestyle Strategies for Better Health & Wellbeing Promoting Crown Point Ecology Center's mission of protecting the environment by incorporating sustainable, natural practices for self-care, nutrition & lifestyle.
$30 (plus applicable credit card fees)/workshop includes a 2-person household!
**Online, Interactive, Live Workshops**
**Geared to decrease critical health risk & improve energy & vitality**
**Designed so participants can personalize for the greatest benefit**
Each Wellness Workshop is held from 7-8 pm virtually. You can purchase single or multiple events. 
Click HERE for tickets. Contact Kim Hemminger with questions at 330-714-2465
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?
  • 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 OPEN!
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
Soil Thermometers
Most gardeners pay attention the air temperature when deciding when to plant, but not the soil temperature. But the soil temperature is just as important. If the soil is too cool, seeds will not germinate, or germinate poorly, and the growth of transplants will be checked. This can set back or diminish your harvest. According to Buckeye Yard & Garden onLine (BYGL)
Cool season crops, such as broccoli, cabbage, beets, and carrots can germinate at minimum soil temperatures of 40F. Warm season crops, such as beans, tomatoes, peppers, and squash can germinate at minimum soil temperatures of 55-60F. The same soil temperatures should also be used when planting transplants.

Those are minimum temperatures, not necessarily the "best" temperatures. The University of California has a chart showing the optimum (best) range for vegetable seed germination. The University of Connecticut recommends waiting until the soil temperature is above 65 to set out tomatoes, eggplants, cucumbers, squash and peppers and Oregon State recommends waiting until the soil temperature is above 70. 

According to the BYGL article, 
Soil thermometers are used to measure a soil's temperature. To determine the soil temperature, simply push the thermometer into the soil to the depth of the seed planting; however, for transplants it is best to determine the soil temperature at about 4". Soil thermometers can be purchased at local nurseries and hardware stores or ordered from gardening catalogs.

According to the University of Illinois Extension, you can also use a refrigerator thermometer that has a probe. 

So do yourself, and your seeds and transplants, a favor, and check your soil temperature before you tuck them in.  
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 Beans--The Vegetable of the Year!
The National Garden Bureau has declared 2021 the "Year of the Garden Bean". The Bureau notes that
One of the earliest cultivated plants, garden beans can trace their beginnings to Central and South America. Vining or climbing beans were an original member of the “Three-Sisters” – a companion planting of the first domesticated crops of maize, winter squash, and climbing beans. These became the three main agricultural crops used for trade and food for Native North Americans.
Green beans were once referred to as string beans due to the long fibrous thread along the pod seams. The first stringless green bean was developed in 1894 by Calvin Keeney who later became known as the “Father of the stringless bean”.

Beans (Phaseolus vulgaris) are a member of the pea (legume) family. Beans are grown for the seeds (Lima and dried beans) or for the pods with the immature seeds in them (green, wax, purple, Romano, snap or string beans). Beans may have either a short habit (bush beans), or a vining habit (pole beans, which as the name suggests, need some support).  
Beans come in many colors including green, yellow and purple. The ones that are a color other than green are easier to find for picking.   Beans can be planted as soon as the danger of frost is past, about an inch deep and spaced 3-4 inches apart, or 9 to a square foot. Beans should not be planted where another member of the legume family has been planted in the last 3 years. 
Beans draw their own nitrogen from the air and "fix" it in the soil, so they need little added nitrogen, and too much nitrogen can lead to excessive leaf growth. Because beans have a shallow root system, cultivate carefully.  
Harvest snap beans before the pods are completely filled out and prepare them soon after picking. 
There are over 500 cultivated varieties of beans! So this summer have some fun and try growing some different types of beans. 

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.