Edible Gardening

Want summer veggies? Get to work

Want loads of eggplant and other summer vegetables? Plant them now for harvest in July and August.
Want loads of eggplant and other summer vegetables? Plant them now for harvest in July and August. Bee file photo

May is when your summer garden really gets cooking. Warmer temperatures prompt rapid growth, making it an excellent time to transplant seedlings as well as sow seeds.

Keep an eye on the weather. Monthly averages for May in Sacramento are very temperate with an average high of 80 degrees and low of 51. But local May temperatures also can spike to 105 or dip to overnight lows in the 30s.

With that in mind, keep tabs on soil temperature and moisture, too. Warm soil prompts faster growth, but seedlings also need evenly moist soil for a healthy start. Check the garden daily; don't let the soil dry out as seeds are trying to sprout. As those young plants become established, deep water them to encourage deeper, stronger roots.

What to plant now?

  • It's prime time to set out those tomato transplants along with peppers and eggplants. Pinch off any flowers on new transplants to make them concentrate on establishing roots instead of setting premature fruit.
  • Direct-seed melons, cucumbers, summer squash, corn, radishes, pumpkins and annual herbs such as basil.
  • In the flower garden, direct-seed sunflowers, cosmos, salvia, zinnias, marigolds, celosia and asters. (You also can transplant seedlings for many of the same flowers.)
  • Plant dahlia tubers. Other perennials to set out include verbena, coreopsis, coneflower and astilbe.
  • Transplant petunias, marigolds and perennial flowers such as astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia and verbena.
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