Plant now, risk late frost or wait 10 days
Season quickly approaching for flower, vegetable gardens
Soil prep should be finished or near complete by now, and seedlings should be growing taller and stronger indoors. Soon enough, garden centers and nurseries will stock their shelves with vegetable and flower 6-packs and gallon plants.
The accepted and traditional planting date for this area is Mother’s Day. There are two reasons for that – the soil has probably crossed the 60-degree threshold that warm-weather plants need for more robust growth, and the danger of frost will have passed.
Generally, local nurseries make available plants that do well in this mountain area. Watters Garden Center reports that the Prescott area is Zone 7, and the store sells only what grows here.
On Wednesday, May 3, the garden center was unloading trucks of vegetables and flowers, including 6-packs and gallon containers of tomatoes, peppers, herbs, eggplants, and a multitude of flowers.
Mortimer Nursery expected its truck momentarily Wednesday afternoon, a store clerk said. It will deliver geraniums, coleus, lantanas, lots of hanging plants, artichokes, tomatoes, lemon grass, the super-hot pepper called Scorpion 7, zucchini, cantaloupe, purple calabash and watermelon.
This, too, is the time of year to begin once-a-week deep irrigation of trees and shrubs.
“The most efficient way to deliver water is drip irrigation on a timer,” said Master Gardener Lori Dekker.
Installing a system can be intimidating to the first-time gardener, but most gardening centers have staff available to answer questions, Dekker added.
Good overhead sprinklers used before 8 a.m. or old-fashioned hand watering also will do the trick.
All green plants need sun to power their metabolism, with most flowers and vegetables needing 6-8 hours a day. Leafy produce generally don’t require quite that much, Dekker said. Plant so that your crop receives the amount of sunlight needed.
Plant nutrition is often overlooked because it is invisible and poorly understood. Fast-growing, heavily-producing plants require a lot of sustenance.
There are two schools of thought about organic and inorganic fertilizers, Dekker said. Inorganic or “chemical fertilizers” work quickly and easily.
Organic fertilizers like compost, composted manures, bone or blood meal, work more slowly but they also feed the soil, resulting in literally billions of microorganism in every cupful. Those tiny microbes work as a team to break down leaf litter, manures, dead bugs, apple cores and potato peels to enrich the soil.
Because it’s a slower process, good organic gardeners carefully work on their soil for most of the year.
A reminder to pull young weeds now, before they set seed, and you’ll have fewer weed problems later on. Mulch will further act as a barrier to weed seed.