Your Best Garden Ever- Part 3

cucumber1

Cucumbers: Considered a tropical vegetable. they thrive and seem to grow overnight when the temperature is above 80 degrees. Plants and vines are frost tender and should not be planted until the middle of May. Start seeds indoors in a warm, sunny window after the 15th of April. Transplant them outdoors only after the weather is warm with no danger of a late frost. Cucumber plants grow in two forms: vining and bush. Vines scramble along the ground or climb up trellises, while bush types grow in compact form. Vining cucumbers yield twice as much fruit throughout the summer. Bush cucumbers are more suited to smaller gardens and large planters. Grow cucumbers in full sun and fertile soil. Work organic materials into the soil before planting. The plants respond with rapid growth when the soil has been prepared with compost, bagged cow manure, peat moss or just plain topsoil. Work these materials into soil, and then sow the seeds or set out the small plants. Keep the soil moist until the seeds sprout. Because the bee population has been reduced, you may need to do some hand pollinating of the plants. The first 10 or 15 flowers that appear are male. You’ll the see straight stem with a tiny flower. In the next few days, you’ll notice the females flowers appearing. These are plumper with larger flowers. This is the moment you’ll want to lend a hand and help them set fruit. Otherwise the developing cucumbers will rot and drop off. Using a cotton bud [ swab ] very gently rub the inside of the male flowers and transfer this pollen to the female flowers. It only takes a moment to do this, and in less than 2 weeks, you’ll have small cucumbers growing on the vines. Keep the cucumbers picked as they mature, so that the vines will keep producing for a longer period.

Squash: Their cultivation is identical to cucumbers. Squash require fertile soil and full sun for best production. Standard squash plants grow very large, and take up a lot of space in the garden. You may want to grow the dwarf variety of yellow squash. Several varieties are bred just for the small garden or for containers. They produce almost as much as the bigger standard type squash plants. For an ongoing harvest, start seeds indoors or buy small plants from a garden center. Set out a few plants in mid-May and some in June. Deter squash and cucumber beetles by growing marigolds and basil plants around the vines and bushes. The strong smelling basil and marigolds will mask the odor of the ripening vegetables.

Herbs: No one knows what causes Colony Collapse Disorder, the mysterious phenomenon of bees dying en masse, but we can do our part to save these creatures by growing herbs for them. Bees are attracted to brightly colored day-blooming flowers full of nectar, especially those tubular in shape. Bees love a sweet or minty scent. Plant these herbs to help bees thrive and survive.

Lavender, thyme, mint, borage, bee balm, basil, lemon thyme, lemon balm, parsley, dill, fennel, sage, and chamomile.

Flowers: Bees, butterflies and hummingbirds are attracted to red flowers. Grow petunias, zinnias, impatiens, cleome, cockscomb, and add some colorful yellow and orange marigolds. Plant these in between the vegetables or along the outer edges of the garden. Pick them often and dry them for potpourri or other craft projects.

Lunar New Year begins today. February 19th is the first day of a secular, sacred or other year whose months are coordinated by cycles of the moon. It is year of the Goat/Sheep.

Blessed Be, sweet ones

~ Meadow Walker

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