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June 10, 2013

Growing season off to slow start

(Continued)

My first sowing of spinach and lettuce back around the first of May barely made it. The second planting I did around mid-May has really taken off and outgrown the first, so I’m going to turn under that early planting and get my third planting of greens in the ground very soon. Once hot summer weather arrives in July, these greens will get bitter so I try to get as much in now as I can, and sow more every couple of weeks.

One year, my early planting of quick summer annual flowers — zinnias, cosmos, calendula, bachelor buttons and alyssum — failed, and some I just plain forgot to plant, so I replanted them all from seed in late June. This turned out so well that now I intentionally save some of these seeds for a late planting each year. I find the earlier plantings sometimes peter out by the end of August, especially if it’s been hot and dry. This later planting can then reach its peak in late August and provide me with lots of blooms and color through September. 

One last word about tomatoes: It really helps to provide support to hold the foliage off the ground and to keep the fruit clean. It also makes picking easier. If late blight comes near, the plants will be easier to spray and get good coverage. I like to use a mesh trellis and tie the main leaders to that for support. Some gardeners prefer a stout stake next to each plant, and others use a basket-weave method to support several plants in a row. 

Amy Ivy is executive director of Cornell Cooperative Extension, Clinton County. Office phone numbers: Clinton County, 561-7450; Essex County, 962-4810; Franklin County, 483-7403. Website: www.cce.cornell.edu/ecgardening. Email questions to askMG@cornell.edu.

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