Hands in the Dirt: MLT Gardening Tips for May 2022


It’s planting season and vegetables and flowers are starting to appear everywhere for purchase, from nurseries and hardware stores to grocery stores and farm stands, and the increasingly popular ephemeral plant sales hosted by the garden clubs and master gardeners.

Store-bought starters are often sown thicker than they should be transplanted (I’m looking at you, basil). I consider these plants loose and gently part the stems to transplant them separately. Otherwise, cut off the extra stems so that the strongest starter can continue to grow. Basil and even tomatoes root well in water, so put them in a cup of water and in a few days they will grow roots and can be transplanted into the ground. What a victory!

Mother’s Day is usually the date on the calendar that marks the “everything is ready” for planting frost-sensitive plants in our area, but this year we have unusually cool nights. With lows in the mid 40s, wait to transplant tomatoes and direct seed warm season crops like beans, squash (including pumpkin and zucchini), cucumbers and corn until our nights are at least 50°F.

Squashes and cucumbers don’t like their roots disturbed and it is generally recommended that they be sown directly outdoors. However, they can be sown indoors in compostable pots, which minimizes root disturbance during transplanting as you plant the whole pot or one large pot (4 inches and up). Just be sure to transplant into the garden before the seedling gets too big – a root-bound plant won’t handle the transfer well.

The MLT BOG Free Seed Library is fully stocked with seeds to provide to local gardeners. If you are interested in free seeds, or know someone who might be, please contact us to purchase some. The Seed Library will also be present at all of our May and June business meetings – stay tuned for dates posted on Facebook.

A question about gardening? Ask for it on our Facebook page.

About the BOG

The Ballinger Organic Garden is a volunteer-led effort to develop a community garden at Ballinger Park. The BOG, in partnership with MLT Recreation & Parks and the MLT Senior Center and funded by a grant from the MLT Community Foundation, is currently in “Phase 0” while larger construction activities (creek restoration and trail installation) are completed. Phase 0 includes maintenance of existing raised beds and a garden plot on the south side of the MLT Senior Center in Ballinger Park. Phase 1 will involve the installation of a larger garden with plots available for community members to maintain. Want to volunteer, or do you have an idea of ​​what you would like to see in the future garden? Please let us know.

To stay up to date on what’s happening at BOG, including what’s developing, working groups and events, follow us on Facebook or Instagram.

— By Robyn Rice

Robyn Rice grew up in eastern Washington, pulling weeds and picking rotten fruit as part of the dreaded chores assigned by her father, a master gardener. Today, Robyn is a fisheries biologist for an environmental consulting firm and has been gardening in the Seattle area since 2010. Her scientific background leads to endless research into the “right” way to do things, but her enthusiasm and her sense of adventure leads her to gardenfearless because hey, what could be worse?


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