Hands in the Dirt: MLT gardening tips for May

Can you believe it’s May? If you weren’t busy in the garden yet, you’re about to be!

Nighttime temperatures are still hopping around in the mid-40s, so hold off on transplanting your heat-loving plants like tomatoes and peppers in the ground until our lows are consistently over 50°F.  It may feel good to set out your plants early, but studies have shown that bringing plants in at night for another week or so will significantly improve their growth.

If you do better looking at a calendar than at a thermometer, Mother’s Day is generally the green flag for summer veggies and blooming annuals. The 50°F low mark is also the signal to direct sow warm-season crops like beans, squash (including pumpkin and zucchini), cucumbers and corn.

If you didn’t start warm season edibles from seed, starts can be found at nurseries (check websites for shopping guidelines as some are only open by appointment, and schedules are changing almost daily), hardware stores, grocery stores, local farmers markets, which are just starting to open and farm stands like Country Farms Market and the Yakima Fruit Market.

Depending on the May weather, it might be time to start watering. Seeds need to be consistently moist in order to germinate, and transplanted starts can show signs of water stress if we get a week without rain.

The City’s big Earth Day clean up at Ballinger Park was cancelled due to the Stay Home order, and the Ballinger Clubhouse is looking a little sad without its usual spring refresh. The Ballinger Organic Garden hopes to have a big event to help the Senior Center clean up their beds as soon as we are able to gather again. If you would like to volunteer to help weed at the Senior Center, email us at TheMLTBOG@gmail.com.

The BOG Seed Stash is still plentiful from our seed swap on March 1, even after distributing seeds to over 80 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.

Have a question about gardening? Ask it on our Facebook page (facebook.com/mltbog)!

About the BOG

The Ballinger Organic Garden (BOG) 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 (facebook.com/mltbog) or Instagram (Instagram.com/mltbog)!

— 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 garden fearlessly because hey, what’s the worst that could happen?




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