Garden News – May 2019

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Vegetable Gardens

If you haven’t already planted your vegetable garden, now is a great time to do it. The soil is warmer and the danger of frost is past. Summer vegetables can be planted any time this month. Plant tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, collard greens, and sweet potatoes from transplants. Vegetables to be planted from seed include beans, field peas, sweet corn, mustard, spinach, turnips, radishes, and pumpkins. Cantaloupe, watermelon, cucumbers, squash, kale, okra, kohlrabi, and leeks may be started either from seed or transplants. Just remember that plants started from seed in the garden will take longer to start producing. However, seeds are less expensive than transplants and a greater variety of vegetables are available from seeds than from transplants.

Don’t forget to plant some herbs in your vegetable garden. Basil grows very well in the summer garden. Basil plants may be purchased in garden centers or you can start basil from seed. Other annual herbs that can be planted in the garden now include borage and anise. Borage will attract bees to your garden. The attractive blue flowers of borage are edible as are the leaves which can be used in salads. Anise’s flowers will also attract bees to your garden. The edible seeds are used to flavor baked goods and leaves are used in teas and salads.

Ornamentals

Prune back spring-flowering shrubs like azaleas and viburnums once they have finished blooming. Summer bedding plants, such as zinnia and petunia, can be planted now. Consider adding lesser-known annuals like calendula to your garden for a bit of variety. Plant summer bulbs such as canna, caladium, and elephant’s-ear now. Now that the weather is warmer, you can expect to see more insect pests in the garden. Scout your landscape and garden often to stay ahead of the pests and diseases. Contact me at smhawkin@ncsu.edu or call me at 336-753-6100 for help with identification and control of pests and diseases.

Lawns

If you want to establish a lawn of warm-season grass, now is the time. Hybrid bermudagrass can be sprigged now through July. Zoysiagrass, centipedegrass, and St. Augustine grass can be sprigged or seeded now through July. Make sure to keep your new lawn watered while it is getting established. Start mowing the grass in a new lawn when it is 50 percent higher than the recommended height for the grass.

Use the correct mowing height on established lawns. Bermudagrass and zoysiagrass should be mown to a height of 0.75 to 2 inches. Centipedegrass should be kept to a height of 1 to 2 inches. Tall fescue and fescue/Kentucky bluegrass mixes should be mown to a height of 2.5 to 3.5 inches. St. Augustine grass should be mown to 2.5 to 4 inches tall.

Be sure to keep mower blades sharp. If you are mowing your lawn regularly, you can leave the grass clippings to decompose on the lawn. This will give your lawn some extra nitrogen. If you have to delay mowing, collect the clippings and use them as mulch in your landscape. Warm-season grasses can be fertilized this month. Don’t fertilize cool-season grasses until September.