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MAY: What to Do in the Garden


In the Edible Garden

  • Tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, melons, peppers & eggplant need at least 8 hrs. of sunlight for best fruit production.
  • Plant warm-season vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and vine crops after mid-May.Control cucumber beetles, carriers of cucumber wilt, as soon as cucumbers germinate to prevent disease. This disease will cause plants to wilt and die just as cucumbers start producing.Make a home for toads, which eat cutworms and other insects. Invert clay flowerpots in shady spots. Chip out a piece of the rim to give the toads an entrance to their home.
  • To insure pollination of sweet corn, plant several rows together in a block, rather than in one long row. Keep well watered, especially from tasseling time to picking.
  • The Agricultural Research Service has found that size & quality of tomato harvests increased significantly when plants were grown over red plastic. Potatoes & green peppers produced best when the plastic was white.
  • Plant flowers in the vegetable garden. They attract beneficial insects and make the garden pretty.
  • Plant mini-vegetables in containers.
  • Grow cucumbers on a trellis or in a tomato cage. This helps to save space and provides better air circulation, thereby reducing disease problems.

In the Ornamental Garden

  • Multi-flora petunias withstand heat better than other types and are more resistant to botrytis, a disease that attacks petunias during wet weather.
  • Watch for European pine sawflies on Scotch, Red, Jack and Mugo pines. Larvae have a black head, black legs and a dark stripe bordered by white stripes down the side of the body.
  • Use plastic milk jugs for seed irrigation. Take a large nail & punch holes 2 inches apart in the side of a jug. Bury with the neck protruding. Fill with water and screw on the cap. The water will gradually seep out providing a slow, deep irrigation for surrounding plants.
  • Prune spring-flowering shrubs such as forsythia and lilac after blooming.
  • Plant summer-flowering bulbs.
  • Plant perennials, annuals and herbs after mid-May.
  • Plant larger dahlia varieties 6-8 inches deep, and smaller varieties 3-4 inches deep after mid-May.
  • For best growth keep roots of clematis cool by mulching with straw or pine needles.
  • Dry grass clippings before using as a mulch. Do not use clippings that have been sprayed with a herbicide.

In the Indoor Garden

  • Adding fertilizer to a dry root ball burns the roots, damaging or killing the plant. Water dry houseplants before fertilizing & never fertilize wilted plants.
  • Increase your houseplant collection by taking cuttings. Root cuttings in perlite, potting soil or vermiculite.
  • Move houseplants to the garden when night temperatures remain above 55 degrees F.

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From the Editor - Jan/Feb 2015

Illinois is an agricultural state. We all know that, right? But did you also know that Illinois imports 90 percent of its food


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I brought a frangipani (Plumeria) back from Hawaii last April when it was just a leafless branch. It sprouted leaves and grew over summer. Now it is losing its leaves. How can I keep it growing over winter? Will it bloom?

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