Memorial Day weekend launches the period of the year when gardens go gangbusters: the long days and generally warm temperatures--and, in most years, regular rains--make for fast-growing plants and quick harvests. It also opens a golden window of opportunity when nearly all tender crops can be direct sown. All the cucurbits--cucumbers, summer and winter squash, melons, watermelons, and gourds--can be put right in the ground. So can corn, beans of all types, okra, basil, nearly any brassica (kale, collards, cabbage, Asian greens, etc.), heat-tolerant lettuces, beets, chard, potatoes, sweet potatoes (propagated from slips)--the list goes on and on. Late May and early June bring the most wide-open sowing possibilities to our region. The only crops that I wouldn't try at this late date are tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants, as well as cool- and cold-season crops such as spinach, mache, and shell peas. Now is the time to throw caution to the wind; to sow 'em if you got 'em; to fill any unclaimed corners of your garden with seeds and seedlings that will thrive in the sun and the heat.
Memorial Day weekend also marks the beginning of steady harvests coming out of the garden. If you started your arugula, radishes, and bok choy in March or April, you're likely now eating fresh from the garden on a daily basis. Our fields are currently lush with full-size arugula leaves, big crisp spicy radishes, lettuces and Chinese Cabbages forming heads, swelling kale and collard leaves, and herbs: cilantro, parsley, and plenty of perennials such as oregano and thyme. With a daily garden practice and a bit of planning, your garden can keep you healthy and fed for at least the next seven months--or longer with a bit of protection.
On Monday, this blog will shift its focus a bit to provide topic-specific how-to garden articles on a daily basis, to keep you encouraged and informed. The articles will be short--probably in the two-paragraph range, mainly--but they will be practical and timely. Check back next week for help and thoughts on the following topics: "The Versatile Radish," "Spinach for Spring, Spinach for Summer," "Efficient Weed Control," "How to Trellis and Prune Tomatoes," and "Garden to Table: the Harvest Process."