Paul J. Hang

This seems to be the sound of this spring.

After the sound of downpours, water rushing out of the downspouts or spilling over the gutters, the decibels lower and we are left with the insomnia provoking drip of a leaky faucet.

Normally, I like to hear rain on the roof. It is particularly nice in the mornings when I do not have to get up. It is soothingly sleep inducing. Now, the sound of rain pounding on the shingles brings cries of “No, not more rain!” My yard has a couple of low spots that tend to flood and hold water after a heavy rain. This year those places have not dried out. Not being able to mow that area has led to knee high grass. Last week, I was finally able to get them mowed and baled for mulch. Then the last two rains of an inch each have brought back the swamp.

I hesitated to write this thinking I might bring on a drought for such ingratitude. I am however grateful for the cooler weather and the effect all this moisture has had on most of our plants. Roses have never looked better and cool weather crops like broccoli and lettuce are still doing fine. To further tempt fate, I feel it is my duty to warn against what a cool wet spring brings along with all its beauty: diseases and fungus. Plants that do not get air circulating around and through them are especially vulnerable. Also, insects are thriving and not just the 97% that are either harmless or beneficial. Aren’t I a real fun guy?

Things to do in the garden:

It is not too late to start a garden. Choose strong vigorous plants. Plants of tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant are the best bet for early June transplanting. Plants that can be planted from seed in early June are: green beans (successive plantings every three weeks can extend the harvest), beets, carrots, Swiss chard, corn (depending on the variety), cucumber, lettuce, lima beans, muskmelon, winter and summer squash.

To avoid the wilting of cucumber and melon vines cover the new plants with row cover material until the plants flower. Then remove the cover so that the pollinators can do their work. Mulch vegetables in mid-month after the soil has warmed up. You can fertilize all vegetables, corn two times, this month.

Weed and thin planted crops. Crowding plants more than is recommended results in all the plants doing poorly. Water deeply (not a little each day) one inch per week all summer. Apply the water to the base of the plants rather than on the foliage. If you use a sprinkler, water early in the day so the foliage can dry before nightfall. Wet foliage overnight encourages fungal diseases to develop.

Remove seed heads from perennials. Don’t allow fancy hybrids to ripen and self-sow as their offspring will not come true. Deadhead flowers for more blooms. Iris can be divided and replanted after blooming. Pinch back mums once they are 4 to 6 inches tall. Continue to pinch back until mid-July.

If your daffodils didn’t bloom well it could be because they are now growing in the shade of trees or shrubs. Or perhaps the daffodils are too crowded. Once the foliage turns yellow you can dig up the bulbs and divide and/or move them.

Fruit trees often shed small fruits in early summer called June Drop. Thin apples to one per cluster and one fruit every four to eight inches. This will cause bigger fruit. Pick up all fallen fruit. Only compost fallen fruit if you have a “hot” heap. Otherwise dispose of diseased fruit in the trash.

If you notice a “volunteer” tomato plant in your garden yank it out or transplant it. Good gardeners, like good farmers, rotate their crops. A volunteer growing in last year’s tomato area allows disease to accumulate in that spot. Mulch under tomatoes keeps the soil from splashing up on the fruits. Soil on the fruits promotes disease. If you don’t stake, trellis or cage your tomatoes and let them sprawl on the ground, mulch will keep the fruit off the bare ground. Mulch keeps the ground from drying out, suppresses weeds and moderates the soil temperature. Several layers of newspaper topped with organic mulch, leaves, untreated grass clippings, coarse compost, shredded bark etc. should do the trick.

The Master Gardener Volunteers Helpline is open for your gardening questions. Call 740-474-7534 with your question or go to, click on “Ask an expert.” Master Gardener Volunteers will get back to you with answers to your questions. Try to provide as much information as you can.

Water your roses well but hold off on the geraniums. They will bloom best when kept somewhat dry. Newly planted trees and bushes should be watered well each week if the weather turns dry. Give them a good soaking. Don’t give them a booster feeding of fertilizer this year. Force those young roots to search for food by stretching out into the soil.

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