by Barbara Kozlowski, Master Gardener

Rain, rain, go away – we’ve had enough! I thought we were heading into a very dry summer, possibly a drought – but, NO, Mother Nature decided we should have some rain – more than 3 inches at my house. Luckily, the gardens have good drainage and have absorbed most of the rainfall. The grass is growing very tall and so are the weeds I haven’t been able to pull. The rain we’ve had will make it much easier to pull the weeds out of the gardens.

A short time ago, I purchased a few vegetable plants and planted them in containers. I watered the tomato plants when they were planted since we had had hot, dry weather. It was then followed by an abundance of rain. When I went out to check on the tomato plants, I realized I had forgotten to remove the plugs that allow excess water to drain. I found it’s not very easy to remove container plugs from pots filled with garden soil that are planted and very saturated with rainwater. A lesson learned!

If you have noticed any standing water after a heavy rainfall, especially in one of your gardens, do your best to add more garden soil around your plantings to prevent root rot. If possible, gently lift the plants from the garden while protecting the roots and add soil and replant. Low spots may happen after several periods of heavy rains when soil and mulch have been washed away. Another way to drain this water is to cut a deep enough ditch from the garden to direct the water to another area of your yard.

I will say the cool weather we’re experiencing has been great for cool-weather crops like peas and spinach and of course, our lawns, trees and shrubs. The rains we’ve had are like the deep watering the lawns, trees and shrubs need to establish and maintain their root system. Sprinklers just cannot do the same deep watering when we have dry, hot weather.

We have also passed the “last frost date” usually noted by garden books and seed companies. Now is the time to plant tender vegetables and flowers into our gardens, whether done by plant or seed. The ground is warm and seeds will germinate quickly. Radishes and lettuce germinate fairly quickly, and if you resow them every couple of weeks, you’ll have a ready supply all summer long and into the fall, although in the very hot weather, lettuce may bolt (go to seed). Herbs can also be sown outdoors into prepared beds or containers. Plant edible flowers like nasturtiums for bright colors in the garden and your salad. The marigolds are a good deterrent for unwanted garden pests.

Other edible flowers include roses, lavender, scented geraniums, Johnny Jump-Ups, pineapple sage, pansies, calendula, red clover and signet marigolds, to name some from a much longer list. Denise Schreiber wrote a wonderful book called “Eat Your Roses, Pansies, Lavender and 49 Other Delicious Edible Flowers.” In this book, she identifies edible and non-edible flowers. She also includes recipes for salads, desserts, drinks, butters, syrups and sugars. The book is available through St. Lynn’s Press in Pittsburgh, Pa..

Strawberry season is just around the corner. Last week I stopped by Dom’s Butcher Block to check out the new olive oils and vinegars recently added to his wonderful shop. I purchased several flavored oils and vinegars. The one that will be perfect for the upcoming strawberry season is the balsamic vinegar with pear. The flavor is delicate and goes perfectly with the strawberries, allowing both the strawberries and vinegars flavors to “explode in your mouth.” You can sample both the olive oils and the vinegars and I highly recommend them.

Grow what you love and enjoy what you grow! The Ellicottville Farmers’ Market is coming on June 22. See you there!


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