Many gardeners have found it difficult to get their gardens tilled and planted this spring, due to what looked to be unending spring rains. Those who did get their gardens tilled, planted and fertilized earlier this spring might find themselves starting over. Seeds that have been sitting in cold, water-soaked ground may rot before they have a chance to get started. Heavy rains may have washed away seed; newly germinated seeds may also be at risk. In some parts of Indiana, early plantings were hit by frost in mid May.

Fortunately, there are still plenty of vegetables that can be planted in late spring and into summer. You can still direct seed snap and lima beans, sweet corn, beets and carrots. Long-season crops such as cucumbers, eggplants, melons, okra, peppers, pumpkins, squash and tomatoes can be planted until early to mid June in most parts of the state. Starting with transplants, rather than seeds, will help save several weeks of growing time on those. Also, look for fast-maturing cultivars when possible.

As the weather turns hot and dry, you’ll need to pamper your new plantings to help them adjust. You may need to shade plants from hot sun in the afternoons for a week or so, until new foliage has a chance to adapt to the bright light outdoors. Young plants may need to be watered more frequently, since their small root systems will not reach far into the soil.

For those that did get planted earlier, you may need to apply additional fertilizer as a side dressing this summer. Heavy rains wash away much of the nitrogen fertilizer, since it is generally quite water-soluble. Apply about one-third pound of actual nitrogen per 100-foot row alongside the plants (for example, about 2 cups of ammonium nitrate). Then water the fertilizer into the soil if rain is not likely that day.

If you missed planting your favorite cool-season crops because the ground was too wet earlier this spring, be thinking about planting for a fall harvest. Radishes, lettuce and spinach can be planted in late summer or early fall. Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower can all be transplanted to the garden in mid to late summer for harvesting when weather cools down. In fact, many gardeners say these crops perform better in the fall garden than in the spring.



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