EECO Farm – MAY 2024 Newsletter for Gardeners 

“Sweet Aprile showers

Do bring May flowers”.


        “A Hundreth Good Poinets of Husbandrie” – Thomas Tusser (1524-1580)

Okay --- which one of you was praying for rain? Well, you can stop now!

According to the National Weather Service’s data web site --- just since April 1st --- we’ve received 4.64 inches of rain here on the East End. If you go back to the beginning of this year, we had a total of a little over 19 inches of liquid sky fall on us. That’s normally a level of what we have by about June 6 or so.  

Now, if all that rain were to have been spread out evenly over weeks instead of hours it could be handled better but all at once, and in several quick deluges, makes it a problem for gardeners. The soil temperature stays too cool for proper sprouting and growth while new seedlings also get soggy and that greatly slows their ability to absorb enough oxygen and minerals ---- and then they quickly suffer from root rot.

Even our enterprise farmers in the back have had trouble working through such wet soil and are now a bit delayed on their planting schedule as well.  No matter, there’s still plenty of other stuff for them to do in their hoop houses and it is a perfect time for you to compost your own garden space and clean it up properly. 

Despite the weather being a bit less than cooperative --- btw, it is always chilly at EECO Farm in May, especially overnight --- things are moving! Not everyone has started to work their gardens yet, which is perfectly fine, but those who just can’t wait have already cleaned up, put down fresh compost and started their preferred cold-tolerant vegetables, flowers, and herbs.

         NOTE: Historically, EECO Farm’s latest recorded overnight frost was many years ago on May 6th.

Now, if you have not yet begun to work on your garden you are not alone, so please don’t feel guilty. Many of our EECO Farm tenants deliberately wait until it is warmer before working outdoors (less bundling up!) but, more importantly, they are also waiting until the soil is drier (dirt feels just a bit moist to the touch and clumps in your tightened hand) and also warmed up to a consistent 50-55 degrees Fahrenheit all day before planting their favorites. 

Although this extra waiting time does give a somewhat shorter growing season to any directly seeded flowers and veggies, you can easily play catch up on your neighbors by simply going with plantings that come directly from a nursery and were thus planted as seeds 4-to-10 weeks ago in a hothouse.

Mid-to-later May is when you should start putting in your spinach, broccoli, arugula, some hardy pepper varieties, potatoes, onions (green, white and red), snap or snow peas, bush beans and other chill-resistant salad greens. 

Please remember our Garden Rule #8: All vehicles are to be parked in the parking area between the farm road and the fence. Please do not drive out on to the garden field! Heavy cars and trucks can easily crush and damage EECO's underground PVC water pipes and such driving greatly increases the risk of damaging a garden or hitting someone. All EECO Farm rules are prominently posted on the bulletin board outside the tool shed. 

At this time, you can also plant your dahlia, sedum, daisy, iris, calla lily, gladiolus, Colocasia and most other perennial seeds, tubers and bulbs. However, a number of us feel it is still just a bit too early in the season for tomato transplants --- but by using a cloche or transparent row cover you can create a micro-climate and prevent the little plantings from shivering until Memorial Day (the last Monday of May), the traditional date on the East End to start this fruit in your garden. And, yes, ALL tomato varieties are genetically classified as “fruits” ---- and not a vegetable --- but you can expect to get an argument from nutritionists and dieticians!

         For those of you who have been growing various herb (basil, parsley, oregano, etc.) and veggie seedlings (peppers, zucchini, eggplants, etc.)  indoors --- either under lights or in a sunny spot --- mid-to-later May (the 21st on average) is a good time to start “hardening” them off. During daytime, set them outside in a dappled-shade spot for progressively longer periods of time every day for at least a week and cover them at night or bring them in to a covered porch. Do this before transplanting directly into the ground for a healthier plant. You want your outdoor garden soil temperatures to be about 60 degrees Fahrenheit overall for most personal greenhouse transplants such as these to take well. Too cool and they’ll just sit there in your patch looking miserable and refusing to grow bigger until it finally warms up enough!  

Your cold frame veggies that made it through the winter should all have been uncovered and enjoyed by May 16th or so. They can keep in the frame a bit longer --- just take the cover off and let them air out in the sunlight.

No matter when you start planting your EECO garden patch, everything you need to get going is now readily available: plenty of compost, running water, large wheelbarrows, and many types of handy tools in the shed. Access to all of this paraphernalia is covered by your annual rent … so dive in when ready!

         Lastly, right about now is a good time to apply a mild organic fertilizer (say 4-3-3 or even a 3-2-2) to any perennial already in your garden from last year that is at least 5 to 6 inches out of the ground.

Incidentally, those numbers on the fertilizer bag are always listed in the same order by industry standard. The first number shown is for “nitrogen” (a component of the chlorophyll molecule that promotes optimum shoot and leaf growth), the second number represents “phosphorus” (which, on the other hand, is used for cell division and to generate new plant tissue. It promotes good root growth and is used to encourage fruit and flower production) while the last of the 3 numbers is always for “potassium” (a mild water-soluble mineral that influences a plant’s overall heartiness and vigor). 

The warmer summer season is just around the corner and that is the best time to enjoy gardening at EECO Farm. Just a little more patience!

         SPECIAL REMINDER: The Full Moon Pot Luck Dinner has been scheduled so please remember to mark your calendars: Saturday, AUGUST 17TH.

Happy Gardening!


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