Timely tips for your garden!
Your Community Gardening Newsletter
May 2022 Volume 10 Number 4
Join us for this self-directed tour through six unusual gardens—each may spark new ideas for your garden.
General tour tickets are $25 each and go on sale May 1. Tickets must be purchased in advance.
For event updates and general information visit: summitmastergardeners.org
Tour ticket includes the Posie Shoppe where visitors can shop the wide variety of Master Gardener-grown plants and garden items.
Upcoming Events
Saturday, May 7, 2022
World Naked Gardening Day! The title pretty much says it all. This year is the 18th annual! Just be sure to use sunscreen and insect repellent, and you still might want to wear a mask!. 

Friday, May 20, 2022, 9:00 AM – 10:00 AM
Springfield Coffee Chat. This month Master Gardener Lee Paulson will present his ever-popular program “Totally Tomatoes”. Join us to learn of the various varieties available and the best ways of growing them, including the heirloom varieties. We will meet at the Springfield Community Center, 2491 Canfield Road, Akron, OH 44312. This program is free to the public. No registration required.
Wednesday, May 25, 2022, 7:00 PM
Join the Summit County Master Gardeners for Meet Me in the Garden. This event offers free presentations every fourth Wednesday of the month, January - July in 2022.  This month Sonia Bingham, Native Roots, Inc. and CVNP Wetlands Biologist and Native Seed Collector/Grower, will talk about Native Plants: Practical Gardening Tips. The program will be held at the F.A. Seiberling Nature Realm, 1828 Smith Rd., Akron. Check our website for more details.
Thursday, May 26, 2022
Summit Metro Parks wants you to join them online to learn all about plants! They will focus on fruits and vegetables we can grow to eat, as well as native plants that are important to many of the critters that call our gardens home. There are two Zoom programs, Virtual Gardening for Kids from 1:30-2:30 and Virtual Gardening for Adults from 6:30 -7:30pm. Click on the program titles above for more info.

Saturday, May 28, 2022
Summit Metro Parks is hosting a Native Plant Festival at the Valley View Area of the Cascade Valley Metropark from 10:00 am -3:00 pm. Browse a wide variety of plants available for purchase, or attend an educational session to better understand how to incorporate native plants into your landscaping. And while you are there, be sure to stop at the Summit County Master Gardener Table to say Hi.

 More learning opportunities:
·        Summit County Master Gardeners on Facebook
·        Follow Summit County Master Gardeners on Instagram with our user name osusummitmgv 
·        Submit questions to Master Gardener Volunteers at Ask a Master Gardener
·        Find fact sheets and garden information at OhioLine Yard and Garden 
·        Let's Grow Akron, Seasonal Cooking Workshops
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! 
Interested in starting a vegetable garden?
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 or online.

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 Summer Squash!
When someone mentions summer squash most people think zucchini, but summer squash come in other shapes and colors. Crookneck, eight-ball, and scalloped or patty-pan squash come in shades of green, yellow and even bi-color. Many varieties have been bred with a more compact growth habit, so that they can fit comfortably into smaller gardens. And they are native to North America!
One thing summer squash all have in common, however, is a fondness for warm temperatures, so don't be in a hurry to plant them in the spring. Use your soil thermometer (see above) and wait until the soil temperature is 65-70 degrees. Summer squash need full sun and well-drained slightly acid soil. They are heavy feeders, so so work in some compost or fertilizer before planting. Space the plants about 2 feet apart to give them room to grow. Consistent moisture is important, so mulch can be helpful.
Squash-vine borer can be a problem, but they only have one generation a year, which appears in the latter part of June. You can use floating row cover to protect your squash plants not only from squash-vine borer but also from cucumber beetles and squash bugs. Another strategy is to put in a second planting in midsummer, after the borers have laid their eggs, for a fall harvest.
Row cover must be removed for pollination once the plants begin to flower. Squash have separate male and female flowers. Only the female flowers will set fruit, which you can see at their base. Many people like to batter-fry the flowers, but squash bees sometimes snooze in them, so check before you take them in the house.
The fruit grows quickly, and can quickly become overly large. Check your plants every day or two and pick the squash when they are about 2 inches in diameter for the longer ones and 3-4 inches in diameter for the scalloped varieties. If you miss one (or more) you can scoop the seeds out and stuff them, or grate them for use in cakes and breads.

For more information see the Illinois Vegetable Guide, 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.