May 2009: Around Your Garden

Our Garden Editor offers tips and ideas for you.
Gene B. Bussell

Taming Tomatoes
As the growing season progresses, keep your tomatoes in line. Stretch tie (visit Burpee.com), twine, and tomato clips all put plants on the right path. (It’s okay if you have not planted yours yet; there’s still plenty of time.) Try galvanized cattle panel (pictured) for solid support. Wooden tomato stakes and wire pens and cages can also help keep them inbounds. Try a Texas Tomato Cage, a galvanized version you can fold up and store after the season is over. Still need more stuff for your homegrown tomatoes? Visit www.tomatogrowers.com.

Colorful Caladiums
Save money by planting tubers of these tropical plants (for shade or sun). Need quick color? Purchase transplants in 6-inch pots for an instant effect. Caladiums work well in containers or in borders planted en masse. Leaf colors come in whites, pinks, roses, and reds. Shade lovers include ‘Pink Cloud’ and ‘Rosebud’; good selections for full sun are ‘Aaron’ and ‘Red Flash.’ For lower-growing caladiums that also like sunshine, try ‘Pink Symphony,’ ‘Sweetheart,’ and ‘Pink Gem.’ Dwarf types such as ‘Miss Muffet’ and ‘Gingerland’ are perfect in pots. Cut caladium leaves make great informal bouquets.

Editor’s Pick
Trugs are handy for any gardener. Lightweight and flexible, they can be used for chores such as weeding, gathering vegetables, deadheading, mixing soil, and even watering. Look for them at your local garden center or hardware store, or buy them online from one of our favorite sources, Gardener’s Supply Company.

Basil
Now that the soil is warm, you can add this tasty herb to your garden or containers. It can be grown from seeds or transplants. There are many types available, each with its own special flavor. Good ones to try include ‘Cuban,’ ‘Genovese,’ ‘Red Rubin,’ lemon basil, ‘Napoletano,’ and ‘Thai.’

Fertilizing
Feed veggies such as peppers, tomatoes, and squashes to improve production. Top-dress with compost, or use a granular, timed-release fertilizer such as Osmocote Plus 15-9-12 or Dynamite Flowers & Vegetables 13-13-13. Supplement every three weeks with an organic liquid food such as SEA-CROP or TerraCycle All-Purpose Plant Food.