Frequently Asked Gardening Questions
HOW TO HANDLE PLANTING VEGGIES?
Some cold-tolerant vegetables can go in the ground mid-May, but they'll need protection from cold nights & soils, and should be kept warm using mulch or plastic row covers.
These are considered cool weather crops:
Beets, Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Collards, Kale, Lettuce,
Onions, Peas, Potatoes (Irish), Radishes, Spinach
Warm weather crops should wait until late May, this generally means after Memorial Day in our climate region or after the last full moon, and row covers and mulch will also aide these crops.
These are considered warm weather crops:
Beans (bush, snap, pole and lima), Cantaloupe, Corn, Eggplant, Okra, Sweet Potatoes, Tomatoes
Vine crops (includes cucumbers, melons, pumpkins, squash, watermelon, zucchini)
(Basil is last into the ground ~ early June isn't too late)
WHEN TO PLANT?
“Can I plant these yet?” ...Every gardener's dilema. Don’t plant till the end of the month of May….. unless you pre-warm the soil & provide special protection. Most annual seeds can be planted after the mid-May, like nasturtium seed if the ground temps are near 60 degress. Wait until late May to direct-seed basil & other tender plants. Summer-flowering bulbs like glads & cannas can be planted in mid-May, but wait until later for tender bulbs like dahlias.
WHAT ABOUT SOILS?
“You are what you eat” …Consider the same for your plants! A good garden starts with good soil; have soils tested if you're unsure of quality and/or nutrient content in your garden. A great soil testing service is available through the UNH Cooperative Extension office in Laconia. Add compost or natural/organic fertilizers to your soils. If you live in Gilford you have access to great compost at the Transfer Station off Lily Pond Road. Continue to fertilize annuals during the summer with liquid fertilizers, on a regular schedule for best results! Growing in full sun requires feeding every couple weeks while plants in partial shade, particularly compact ones, need fertilizer less often.
HOW TO CARE FOR HANGING BASKETS & CONTAINERS?
"If I buy pre-planted planters & hangers can I just leave them outside?" ...Hanging baskets & containers can venture outside earlier in the spring -- but planters & hangers must move inside if frost threatens (so plan accordingly... think lightweight). Mother’s Day flowers will probably not be tough enough to stay outside on cold nights or windy, cold spring days! Remember that plants suffer from wind chill factors just like we do. Impatiens, begonias, & other warm-weather plants cannot tolerate cold nights. Containers are unique due to plant concentration in limited space – as a result we recommend light soil-less mixes for container plantings. Be aware some come with fertilizer already incorporated in the soil! Containers in full sun do best with slow-release fertilizer at time of planting & again in mid-summer, in addition to regular liquid feed. Vigorous plants, like trailing petunias, love fertilizer & benefit from weekly applications (more often in some cases).
WHO'S EATING MY LILIES & WHAT DO THEY LOOK LIKE?
"My lilies don't look good, who's to blame?" ...Adult beetles are bright scarlet red, with black legs, head, antennae & underbelly. They're 1/4″ to 3/8″ long & strong fliers. Beetles reportedly squeak if squeezed gently. Adults lay reddish-orange eggs, hatching into particularly unpleasant larvae, which look like 3/8″ long slugs (colored orange, brown, yellow or green with black heads). Larvae cover themselves in their own excrement (a 'fecal shield') which repels predators. Larvae eventually become fluorescent orange pupae.
Adult beetles winter in soil or plant debris & emerge in early spring to find food & mates. Females lay eggs in lines on the underside of Lilium or Fritillaria leaves. Adults do some damage, but major damage occurs when eggs hatch into larvae in 7-10 days. Larvae voraciously consume leaves within reach & flower buds. This continues for 2 to 3 weeks, when larvae drop to the soil & begin to pupate. 2 to 3 weeks later adult beetles emerge & start eating again. This occurs from early spring to mid-summer. Beetles reportedly don’t mate & lay eggs until the next spring.
Those in an infested area should avoid sending lilies or other plants to anyone else (also carefully inspect plants received). Carefully select & inspect all plants being introduced to your garden. Constant vigilance, quick removal & disposal of beetles, eggs & larvae can control an infestation on small numbers of plants. Confirm beetles are actually dead; if squashed, don’t leave squashee in your garden. Gardeners often drop them in a can of water with vegetable oil. If you suspect beetles around your lilies but don’t see any, carefully dig in the top half inch of the soil – no deeper! They hide under the surface, so be ready for them to pop out. Adults are easily spooked when trying to pick them by hand, if dropped on the ground THEY LAND UPSIDE DOWN, with black underbellies up, effectively camouflaged. Place a light-colored cloth under the plant before in order to see fallen beetles.