In the Garden
By SCMG Jerilynn Jenderseck
by Stephanie Wrightson, Sonoma County Master Gardener
Harvesting & Preserving Garden Bounty
Food Garden Tips
Weed, weed, weed. Weeds are competing with your crops for sun, water and nutrients. And, weeds can harbor some food garden pests.
Plant citrus this month. Look for varieties that are hardy. Everyone has a Meyer lemon – how about a kumquat or Satsuma orange? Mulch and water citrus deeply for good growth and fruiting. The root ball should remain moist, not soggy.
If May weather turns unusually hot, put shade cloth on tender seedlings for a few weeks and increase irrigation so that the root area stays moist, not wet.
Over-vigorous fruit trees or trees that are too large may be summer pruned the end of May to June/July (however, it reduces the production of fruit). At a minimum, remove upright watershoots emerging from branches and suckers emerging from the tree roots/base. They do not flower or fruit and they compete for water and nutrients.
Most fruit trees (not all) benefit from thinning. Favorable fruit-to-leaf ratio promotes large fruit. In general, space fruit every 4-6 inches along a branch or leave one fruit per spur; but leave the largest fruit even if unevenly spaced. Remove small and damaged fruit.
Beneficials are insects that feed on common garden pests, like aphids and caterpillars. Attract bees and beneficial insects to your food garden by including ornamentals and flowering herbs that provide nectar and/or pollen. Cosmos, yarrow, zinnias, dill, fennel, cilantro, sweet alyssum, sunflowers, lobelia and marigolds are just a few.
Depending on the weather, May can see some heavy infestations of aphids. Use a heavy spray of water to remove aphids; usually, they can’t find their way back up the plant. Soap sprays can be used, but the infestations must be thoroughly covered and repeat applications may be necessary.
Know what pest you are fighting so that you can select effective pest management strategies. Check out University of California’s natural enemies gallery.
Inspect crops regularly throughout their growing season for early problem diagnosis and resolution. Refer to University of California’s Integrated Pest Management (IPM) site. Control ants to help control damaging insects that produce honeydew, such as aphids and scale. Ants are protecting these harmful insects from their natural predators.
ONIONS, BULB, Jan-May, C, D/T, 100-120 days to maturity
POTATOES, Feb-May, C, D, 100-120 days to maturity
LEEKS, Feb-Jul, C, T, 120-150 days to maturity
SWISS CHARD, Feb-Aug, C, D/T, 60-80 days to maturity
LETTUCE (heat-tolerant varieties this month), Feb-Oct, C, D/T, 50-60 days to maturity
BEETS, Mar-Aug, C, D, 55-70 days to maturity
CARROTS, Mar-Sep, C, D, 70-90 days to maturity
ONION, BUNCHING, Mar-Oct, C, D/T, 70-80 days to maturity
KALE, Mar-Nov, C, D/T, 65-75 days to maturity
ASPARAGUS (seedlings), Apr-Jun, C, T, 4 yrs to maturity from seedlings
CELERIAC, Apr-Jun, C, T, 150-160 days to maturity
OKRA, Apr-Jun, W, T, 70-80 days to maturity
PEPPERS, Apr-Jun, W+, T, 65-85 days to maturity
PUMPKINS, Apr-Jun, C, D/T, 100-115 days to maturity
TOMATILLOS, Apr-Jun, W, T, 70-80 days to maturity
TOMATOES, Apr-Jun, W+, T, 50-90 days to maturity
CORN, SWEET, Apr-Jul, W, D, 65-110 days to maturity
CUCUMBERS, Apr-Jul, W+, D/T, 50-70 days to maturity
SQUASH, SUMMER, Apr-Jul, W, D/T, 50-60 days to maturity
EGGPLANT, May, W+, T, 70-80 days to maturity
MELONS, May-Jun, W+, D/T, 85-120 days to maturity
PARSNIPS, May-Jun, C, D, 90-120 days to maturity
SQUASH, WINTER, May-Jun, C, D/T, 80-120 days to maturity
BEAN, POLE, May-Jul, W, D, 60-70 days to maturity
BEAN, BUSH, May-Sep, W, D, 55-65 days to maturity
CARDOON, May-Sep, C, T, 180 days to maturity
ARTICHOKES, May-Sep, C, D/T, 130-190 days to maturity
*NOTE: Planting dates are approximate for Sonoma County; weather patterns, microclimate and other growing conditions must be considered when direct seeding and transplanting. “Days to maturity” is approximate and depends on the vegetable variety and your garden’s specific growing conditions. This information will facilitate planting dates that lead to successful production before the growing season ends.
W = warm season crops that grow best in soil temps of 65-80 degrees and air temps of 75-90 degrees and little cooling at night.
W+ = warm season crops that need extra protection to keep them warm if planted early in season.
C = cool season crops that grow best in soil temps of 60-65 degrees and air temps of 65-75 degrees.
D = seed is usually sown directly in the garden
T = crops are usually planted from transplants
D/T = seeds can be planted directly into soil or transplants can be used
Selected Kitchen Garden Recipes
Dilled Cucumber Soup
Bok Choy Stir-Fry
Carciofi alla Romana
Classic French Omelet with Herbs de Provence
Fennel Pollen Update
Fennel-Pollen Crusted Halibut
Grandma's Herbed Triscuit Hors d'oeuvres
Grilled Padron Peppers
Honey Fig Jam
Lemony Rice and Shrimp Salad
Other Fennel Recipes