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COLUMN: Longer days means early harvest close at hand

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By Cheryl Steenerson

Sunshine! I am so glad to see the sun and feel its warmth.

Did it seem like a long winter to you? We now have over 13 hours of daylight and the spring vegetables are getting bigger by the day. As the weather improves, we won’t be the only ones getting out and about more.

Start keeping a close eye on your crops for insect damage. Aphids, cabbage worms, slugs, snails and mites will start to look for food and your harvest is in their sights. A strong blast of water will usually knock them off. You can also use insecticidal soap spray to keep them from coming back.

I don’t grow broccoli and cauliflower in the spring. It’s easier to control the bugs in the fall and the harvest is bigger and sweeter. If you’re growing broccoli now, this heat and sun will cause the heads to be smaller. The heat stresses them out and the green florets will start to turn yellow. You want to pick before that happens. The heat will also make the broccoli bitter. You can provide shade and reduce these problems.

You should be starting to harvest your lettuce, onions, and radishes now. Spinach and kale isn’t far behind. Remember to keep planting radishes as you pick. That way you’ll have a continuous supply. Window screens can be rigged up to provide shade for your lettuce broccoli and cauliflower. Be creative.

Pinwheels are old-fashioned, I know, but they do a remarkable job of keeping insects off your plants while they’re growing. You can usually find them at the Dollar Store. Pick up some Vaseline while you’re out.

Coat the paddles on the pinwheel with Vaseline and then stick them in various locations around your plants. Flying insects will land and get stuck. Yellow pinwheels are the most attractive to the little pests. Occasionally clean and reapply the Vaseline.

One of the biggest mistakes people make when planting their vegetable gardens is planting too much of the same varieties. Then, when harvest time comes around you find yourself staying up until midnight to put up the harvests. Look at the package or the tag on the plant to find the harvest times and vary them. You can also wait two weeks before replanting the same varieties to help stagger your harvest times.

With all of this daylight sticking around longer, we’ve got more time to enjoy all the beautiful flowers, shrubs and trees decorating the landscape now. I hope you’ve had time to swing by the library to enjoy the plantings in bloom there. Paula Mullins is our master gardener and she, along with the Garden Friends of the Library, does a magnificent job of keeping things beautiful.

Periodically, they dig and divide or prune and pinch and then pot up the starts or plants for sale at the library. The proceeds go right back into the library’s garden. Right now a wild looking succulent is up for grabs for only $5. We call it Frog Lips, and it is a houseplant here in Kentucky. Even those with a brown thumb can grow this one.

Now, get out there and enjoy the sunshine. Derby Day is fast approaching and we must be ready to plant. The Old Farmer’s Almanac is predicting May to have an average of 64 degrees with about 3 inches of rain for the month. I’d say that’s darn near perfect for both the garden and the gardener. Happy growing.

E-mail Cheryl Steenerson at Cheryl@theandersonnews.com.Columnist Cheryl Steenerson provides plenty of harvesting tips.

For the full column, pick up this week's edition of The Anderson News available on newsstands across the county.

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