By Brent Gray
Even though our warm-season turfgrasses have made their spring transition from winter dormancy brown to summer green in color they may not be actively growing as we would expect just yet due to the cool, wet spring most of us have experienced.
While we are eager and impatient to see our lawns, sports fields, golf courses, etc. get that dense healthy green canopy and recover from any thinned areas it just will not happen until we have temperatures that are much more conducive to warm-season turf species growth.
A “rule-of-thumb” guideline that can help us predict when our turf will really get active is the “150 rule.” This rule is derived by taking the night time lowest temperature and adding it to the daytime high. The sum of which should be near or above 150. We have experienced a few very nice warm sunny days with day temperatures reaching into the high 70’s and low 80’s but the night time lows most often were much cooler making the sums of the highs and lows far from the optimum 150 or higher. Therefore, remain patient and look forward to those warmer temperatures which will soon provide conditions much more favorable for active turf growth.
Since many lawns have been way too wet to mow maybe it is a blessing that the turf is not growing that fast right now.
Everybody Can Grow Mint
If you have ever tried to grow this aromatic herb, you are probably still growing it. Mint is one of those plants that happily spreads throughout your landscape with no encouragement. Even though mint is considered by some to be a garden ‘bully’ because it pushes its plant neighbors out of the way, every gardener should have a little patch or pot of this plant.
Who among us has not enjoyed inhaling the aroma as we pluck a mint stem or happen to step on a plant and release the fragrance? To me, it’s like inhaling springtime just after an April shower when the garden is cool and fresh.
Mint is not so particular about soil, light, and drainage as other plants. It will happily grow in full sun or part shade. It will thrive in a well-drained soil, high in organic matter with even moisture. Heavier soils high in clay will produce a smaller less vigorous plant, but just as fragrant if not more so.
Do be aware that this plant – unless contained – will not stay where you put it. It will spread underground and very quickly one little plant will engulf a bed.
To harvest pinch the smaller leaves from the tips of the stems as these have the most concentrated flavor. If your mint flowers, just cut it back to encourage new growth. Crushing, chopping, or bruising the mint with the back of a spoon increases its pungency. Add to fruit salads, beverages, stewed vegetables, marinades, sauces—the list is limited by your imagination.
Some vegetable transplants will “mud in” with good success. Tomato plants will survive wet conditions after transplanting as long as the soil is not saturated. Dig a small hole as deep as you are going to transplant and wait an hour. If water hasn’t filled the hole more than one fourth of its depth, you can plant. Peppers are not as tolerant as tomatoes and melons, cucumbers, eggplant and okra are not at all tolerant of this procedure. If very little or no water accumulates you can plant anything as long as the soil is warm enough.
Cool, cloudy, humid days are ideal for some disease organism. Scout your plants for symptoms and take steps to stop the spread of the disease through infected leaf removal or application of appropriate control measures.
These cool days are not providing high enough temperatures for your tomatoes to grow. Try seeding a mesculun mix or baby lettuce mix in the row between the tomato plants.
These salad crops will be ready to harvest in about three weeks. The tomato plants should be growing well by then.