It is honeysuckle season

Ray Baird

STILL A FEW STRAWBERRIES IN THE HARVEST: The days and nights are getting consistently warmer and the 2016 strawberry harvest may have reached its final week for this year. If you are planning to pick another gallon or two, it would be wise to call ahead to see if the growers still have berries available.

THE HONEYSUCKLES ARE HEAVY WITH BLOOMS AND AROMA: On an early June evening the wild honeysuckles and the warm spring breeze sweeps the aroma across the garden plot and over to the deck. It is a fresh, clean, sweet essence that is indescribable as well as unforgettable. This scent can be enjoyed for the entire month of June.

FOUR O’CLOCKS CAN STILL BE PLANTED: The colorful and tough four 0’clocks can still be planted. The seeds can be found at local hardware’s, seed stores, Walmart, Lowes and Home Depot and can be ordered from seed catalogs, but they will be double the price, plus you will have to pay for shipping and handling. Four o’clocks grow in all types of soil and come in many colors, plus two-tones and speckled. A pack purchased locally costs less than two dollars. They can be planted on the ends of garden rows or beds for a blaze of color. The plants are heat-tolerant and will bloom until the first frost of October

TOMATO CAGES ARE FOR MORE THAN JUST TOMATOES: Tomatoes need cages and stakes, but many other vegetables can benefit from tomato cages. Peppers need support and cages protect them from the summer thunderstorms and keep them from flowing over, and they keep peppers off the ground and clean at harvest. Eggplants are tender and subject to wind and storms, so a cage can add support for them. The cage can also prevent critters such as rabbits, deer and chipmunks from eating the tender leaves. As the autumn growing season arrives, the cages from summer’s tomatoes can be removed and placed on the newly set out broccoli, cabbage and collard plants and then wrapping a clear plastic wrapper bag (like the daily newspaper is wrapped in) around the bottom of the cages to keep rabbits and critters from eating their leaves and also give some frost protection later in autumn and early winter. If you have to spray or dust for insects, the cages and wraps will not hinder you from doing this.

KEEP PLENTY OF WOOD STAKES HANDY TO SUPPORT ALL TYPES OF VEGETABLES: A wooden stake can be a gardener’s best friend. In the summer garden plot, use them in combination with tomato cages to keep the plants sturdy and off the ground. Use soft string or twine to tie plants to the stakes. Stakes can be bought individually or in bundles. A good investment, but they cost quite a bit more, is metal fence stakes which will last for many years to come.

PLANTING TOMATO SEED FOR A LATE TOMATO HARVEST: As we get farther into the month of June, we will find it difficult to find tomato plants. The best way to assure a harvest of late summer tomatoes on sturdy vines is to start some proven hot weather tomato seed varieties that have been proven favorites for several generations, and not those Jonny-come-lately types. Tomatoes that are best for starting from seed at this time in early June are Rutgers, Marglobe, Homestead, as well as Big Boy and Better boy. Start these seeds off within the next few days to assure plants are ready to set in the garden plot by July Fourth, which will allow three months of growing time. Start seeds off in seed-starting medium. Plant a packet of each variety separately in a medium flower container. Fill the prepared medium with proper amount of water and place the medium in the container until it is filled to 1/4-inch from the top of the container and sprinkle seeds from the packet onto the medium. Cover the seeds with medium and pat down and spray with water and spray lightly each day. Use the packet illustration or a label taped to the container for identification. In less than two weeks they should have developed two leaves and then be ready to transplant to individual pots. You should have tomato plants ready for the garden plot by the first week in July.

A BLOSSOM-END ROT SOLUTION FOR TOMATO PLANTS: Blossom-end rot destroys many tomatoes by brown rot on the bottom of the tomatoes as they reach the ripening stage. An effective way to prevent blossom-end rot is to apply a handful of powdered lime into the soil when you set out the tomato plants. Another solution is to mix a cup and a half of lime (powdered) in a two gallon sprinkler can and pour it around the base of the tomato plants several times from bloom stage until ripening stage.

THE SEASON FOR PLANTING CORN: The best time to plant corn rows is not because the soil is warm and the nights are also warm. Corn requires almost three months to mature so it needs to be planted soon. Plant several rows of one variety to allow for wind pollination and support from summer thunderstorms. Good varieties for a great harvest are Silver Queen, Golden Queen, Illini Chief, Golden Bantam, How Sweet It Is and Candy Corn.

THE FIRST FIREFLIES OF THE SEASON: Last year was not a great year for fireflies and probably because of a harsh winter. Hopefully, this will be a better year for them. We look forward to their bright glow every night. There is no yellow like the glow that fireflies produce and no flicker such as they produce.

JUNE ALMANAC: The new moon of the month of June will be Saturday night, June 4, 2016 and can be seen in the western sky at sunset. The moon reaches its first quarter on Sunday June 12, 2016. Flag Day will be Tuesday, June 14, 2016 and Father’s Day will be Sunday, June 19, 2016. There will be a full moon on Monday, June 20, 2016 and its name is “Full Strawberry Moon.” The first full day of summer also begins on Monday, June 20, 2016. The Moon reaches its last quarter on Monday, June 27, 2016

Ray Baird has been providing gardening tips to the community for years and can be reached at 336-969-9350 or at

Ray Baird

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