Activity in the vegetable garden will increase from now on for awhile. This coming week plants of tomatoes and seeds of New Zealand spinach, summer squash and snap beans can be planted outdoors. In about two weeks, lima beans, watermelons, cantaloupes, cucumbers, pumpkins, winter squash, eggplant, okra, blackeyed peas, peppers and soybeans may be planted.
To ensure a full stand of plants and a bountiful yield of vegetables, sow more seed than the actual number of plants needed to produce the crop. When the young seedlings emerge and start to grow, thin them to the distance suggested on the seed packet. This will provide adequate space for the dedelopment of large, high-quality vegetables. Crowded plants are much more susceptible to disease.
If the tomato plants are in peat pots, which have been kept continuaily molst and are soft, with roots protruding, they should not be removed. If the peat pots have been allowed to become dry and hard, root growth through them will be retarded, and the pot should be removed before the plant is set out. In all cases it is advisable to remove any portion of the peat pot which extends above the soil ball of the seedling plant.
When leggy tomato plants are used, lay the lower portion of the stem in a trench and cover with about 3 inches of soll, leaving 5 or 6 inches of the top exposed. Roots will develop along the buried partion of the stem.
Use of a starter solution instead of water when planting young vegetable plants, and particularly tomatoes, will promote racovery from the transplanting operation. Apply one cupful around each plant when it is set and repeat every other day for about for applications.
To make a starter solution, use a soluble fertilizer and follow the instructions printed on the package. If you are unable to get a soluble fertilizer, use one-half cup of 10-10-10 to 3 gallons of water. Stir thoroughly and keep it stirred.
The available phosphorus in the starter soultion can counteract high and low soil temperatures that tend to restrict plant growth. At low phosphorus levels, a soil temperature varying only a few degrees from 59 degrees F. significantly inhibits growth.
Seedlings that have been grown should be adjusted to outdoor conditions before being transplanted to the gar den or flower bed. Gradually harden them off by giving them a little exposure to outalde conditions. Put them outside on warm days, for short periods at first, then progressively longer. Plants undergo a lot of stress when transplanted, even under the best conditions, but the risks are multiplied when they go straight to the garden from a cozy sunny window.
New Zealand spinach resembles true spinach in flavor and appearance when cooked. The plant is rather low and spreading and consists of a great many branching stems, each producing numerous small triangular, fleshy leaves. The tender tips of the branches with the attached leaves are cooked for food. After clipping, the plant quickly resprouts. New Zealand spinach has the advahtage of thriving during hot weather and of being relatively insect free.
The greens of the common varieties of table beets are used. It is possible to use both tops and roots of young beets but the tops of large beets usually become tough and are often damaged by leaf spotting diseases and therefore are seldom used. Swiss chard belongs to the same species as beet but is used for its succulent, darkgreen savoyed leaves and does not produce an edible root. Both vegetables will sprout new leaves and produce greans over a considerable period of time when clipped about the growing point.