It seems like the weather went straight from winter to summer this year. Plants went from dormant to green in the blink of an eye. The Master Gardener Volunteers have already been busy helping homeowners improve their gardens through seminars and the helpline.
In the first two talks of the summer gardening series, we discussed planning your garden and soil health. Some things to consider when determining where to have your garden are:
Drainage – you do not want an area prone to standing water but you also do not want it to dry out too quickly.
Access to water – most gardens require additional water during the summer. Make watering as easy as possible or it will not get done regularly. You can even get an automatic timer that will water at a specific time each day for a specified length of time.
Sunlight – Most vegetables prefer full sun for maximum yield but can withstand some minimal shading.
Location to kitchen – for vegetable and herb gardens, locating them closer to your kitchen will make it easier to use the produce because you can run out and grab what you need for dinner that night. If it is closer to the house and highly visible, you are also more likely to check on the plants a little each day.
Soil – If you have a large yard, choose an area that has darker, richer soil. Those with smaller yards without much topsoil can add organic matter such as dead leaves and plants or compost each year to build soil health. Soil analysis from a lab can tell you how much organic matter and nutrients are in your soil.
Join us at the Community Gardens at 222 E. Market Street the first Tuesday of each month (except July) to learn more about different aspects of vegetable gardening. June 5 we will discuss pest management and August 7 will be on composting. All talks begin at 5pm. You can also rent a garden bed if you do not have space at home.
Master Gardeners maintain a garden helpline each Wednesday from 1-3pm through the summer. If you cannot call or come in during that time, you can drop questions and samples off at the Extension office anytime from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. weekdays. Providing good samples or pictures goes a long way in helping to identify the issue. For example, if there are spots on tree leaves; bring in multiple large, intact leaves. Having several different samples to look at helps in comparing different diseases or insects. Make sure the samples are fresh and haven’t wilted. Keep them in water or refrigerated until you bring them in. For pictures, take clear snapshots from different angles, getting close-ups of the area of concern and print our large copies on good quality photo paper.
Our office is located in the Champaign County Community Center, 1512 South US Highway 68, Urbana. You can also call in questions at 937-484-1526.
Submitted by OSU Extension, Champaign County.