Hands in the Dirt: MLT gardening tips for May 2022

It’s planting season and vegetable and flower starts are showing up everywhere for purchase, from nurseries and hardware stores, to grocery stores and farm stands, and the increasingly popular pop-up plant sales put on by garden clubs and master gardeners.

Store-bought starts are often sown thicker than should be transplanted (I’m looking at you, basil). I consider these free plants and gently pull apart the stems to transplant separately. Otherwise, snip off the extra stems so the strongest start can continue to grow. Basil and even tomatoes root well in water, so pop them into a cup of water and in a few days they’ll grow roots and can be transplanted into soil. What a win!

Mother’s Day is typically the calendar date that marks the “all clear” to plant frost-tender plants in our area, but this year we are having unusually cool nights. With lows in the mid-40’s, hold off on transplanting tomatoes and direct sowing warm-season crops like beans, squash (including pumpkin and zucchini), cucumbers and corn until our nights are at least 50°F.

Squash and cucumbers don’t like to have their roots disturbed and are typically recommended to be direct sown outdoors. However, they can be sown indoors in compostable pots, which minimize root disturbance during transplant because you plant the whole pot, or a large (4-plus-inch) pot. Just be sure to transplant to the garden before the seedling gets too big – a root-bound plant won’t take the transfer well.

The MLT BOG Free Seed Library is fully stocked with seeds to provide to local gardeners. If you are interested in free seeds, or know someone who may be, please get in contact with us about picking some up. The Seed Library will also be at all of our May and June work parties – stay tuned for dates posted on Facebook.

Have a question about gardening? Ask it on our Facebook page.

About the BOG

The Ballinger Organic Garden is a volunteer-led effort to develop a community garden at Ballinger Park. The BOG, in partnership with MLT Recreation & Parks and the MLT Senior Center and funded by a grant from the MLT Community Foundation, is currently in “Phase 0” while larger construction activities (creek restoration and trail installation) are completed. Phase 0 includes maintenance of the existing raised beds and a garden plot on the south side of the MLT Senior Center in Ballinger Park. Phase 1 will involve installation of a larger garden with plots available for community members to maintain. Want to volunteer, or have an idea of what you want to see in the future garden? Please let us know.

To stay up to date on what is happening at the BOG, including what’s growing, work parties, and events, follow us on Facebook  or Instagram.

— By Robyn Rice

Robyn Rice grew up in Eastern Washington, pulling weeds and picking up rotten fruit as dreaded chores assigned by her Master Gardener father. Today, Robyn is a fisheries biologist for an environmental consulting firm, and has been gardening in the Seattle area since 2010. Her science background leads to endless research about the “correct” way to do things, but her enthusiasm and sense of adventure leads her to gardenfearlessly because hey, what’s the worst that could happen?



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Real first and last names — as well as city of residence — are required for all commenters.
This is so we can verify your identity before approving your comment.

By commenting here you agree to abide by our Code of Conduct. Please read our code at the bottom of this page before commenting.