Those selling transplants love those of us who like to buy these
plants in early to mid-April. More years than not, they get to
sell us at least two sets of transplants. Of course, all bets
are off if you use protective covers, such as milk jugs, row
covers or wall-of-water types of protection. Usually it is just
as easy to wait until the recommended date, and that would be
after the range of April 25-May 10 for green beans, sweet corn
and tomatoes. These are all considered "tender vegetables."
Melons, peppers, pumpkin and squash are considered "warm-loving"
and should be planted in the range of May 10-June 1. Pumpkins
planted for Halloween jack-o'-lanterns should be planted about
Father's Day. These pumpkins will get ripe too quickly for use
in late October if planted the normal time. Pumpkins for pies
can be planted in the May 10-June 1 period.
Any time now when soil conditions permit, it is time to plant
things such as asparagus crowns, leaf lettuce, onions, peas,
potatoes, radishes, rhubarb plants, spinach and turnips. Give it
another week or two and it is time to plant such things as
broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower. As with most things, a little
bit of planning goes a long way in preventing problems later on.
Questions abound regarding fertilizing the garden. Without
soil test information, the rule-of-thumb rate for fertilizing
flower or vegetable gardens is about 15 pounds of 10-10-10 per
1,000 square feet of area. If you are using 12-12-12 or 13-13-13
fertilizer, use about 12 pounds per 1,000 square feet.
Soil pH may need to be adjusted due to the addition of lime
and sulfur, which are acidifying. Generally, about 4.25 pounds
of lime neutralizes the acidity from 1 pound of nitrogen or
sulfur. Beware of pH requirements for different plants before
you go out to apply lime. Surrounding plants are also affected.
Examples would be blueberries, rhododendron, azalea, pin oaks
and many evergreens.
If you haven't
applied crabgrass preventer, you have a very short window,
as forsythia has already bloomed (sort of), but don't apply
if you seeded your lawn. You can use a post-emergent product
if germination occurred and immature crabgrass is present.
It is about
time to mow already. Remove no more than one-third of the
leaf blade at a time to prevent raking or catching
butterfly bushes to live material, with a 10-inch maximum
Cut back mums,
but leave 2 inches of dead material since much stored food
is located there.
Cut back ornamental grasses to a
height of 4 inches or so.
University of Illinois Extension]