NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

June 5, 2013

It's not too late to start planting

Tim's Tips
Tim Lamprey

---- — I didn’t think that you could have two consecutive weekends that would have the weather extremes that we had the past two weekends. It’s been a very crazy spring of 2013.

Over the previous week, many customers were in a panic because they had not gotten anything planted in their flower beds or their vegetable gardens. If you consider the wacky weather we have had, I can fully understand why they didn’t get started. If you traditionally plant some of your vegetables from seed, you should buy started plants at this point in time. Many of your vegetable seeds need about 10 to 14 days to sprout. By putting in started plants, you can easily make up for any “lost” time due to the weather. I have started many a vegetable garden in mid-June and had a good harvest just a bit behind anyone who planted in late May. I guess it is one of the perils of owning a garden center. You are so busy helping others get their gardens planted that you wind up getting your own garden planted late.

If you didn’t get your flower boxes planted, you still have plenty of time to get them planted, too. Most of the growers that I deal with still have plants to sell, and we will keep on bringing in new plants each week. All in all, the answer is, yes, you still have time to plant your gardens.

The pest of the past week would appear to be the ant. So many people have come into the store complaining of ants creating mounds in the lawn. In most cases, if you can live with the ants in the lawn, you don’t really need to do anything. If the problem is severe, you can apply a granular ant control to the lawn. This type of product needs to be watered into the soil in order to be effective. If the ants are in the vegetable garden, their tunneling could damage the roots of newly planted seedlings. An application of insecticide should control the problem in the garden.

Caterpillars on plants came in as a close second to ants as the pest people wanted to control this past week. Depending on the species, some of the caterpillars are almost done feeding for the season. This is little consolation to those homeowners who have trees stripped of leaves. In some cases, the tree will put out new leaves and the tree will be fine. The only problem is, there are new caterpillars hatching out that may or may not be a problem for your plants. As I have always advocated, keep an eye out on your plants, and if a problem occurs, start a treatment program as soon as you can. If you wait until the damage is severe, you may not be able to control the insects.

If you have had your vegetable and flower plants in for a few weeks, now is the time to begin fertilizing those plants. All vegetable plants and annual flowers need a steady supply of fertilizer if they are to be healthy plants. You will get more flowers on your annuals, and you will get more vegetables out of your garden if you start and keep up with a regular schedule of fertilizing your plants. You have made an investment in time and money in getting your gardens and planters set up for the season. Don’t let that investment go to waste by not keeping up with fertilizing your plants.

Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.

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Tim Lamprey is the owner of Harbor Garden Center on Route 1 in Salisbury. His website is www.harborgardens.com. Do you have questions for Tim? Send them to ndn@newburyportnews.com, and he will answer them in upcoming columns.