A lot about this year’s vegetable garden warrants my patting myself on my back; other things warrant a nuggy (virtually impossible unless I was double-jointed). Let’s start with the pat-worthy stuff. Perhaps you’ll find some of it useful in your vegetable garden. Perhaps you’ll want to comment on it.

Good Moves

Sweet corn is one of my favorite vegetables, both fresh in summer, and frozen in winter. Evidently, chipmunks are also fans. I plant sweet corn — the old variety Golden Bantam — in hills (clumps) of three stalks per hill, the hills eighteen inches apart in the row, with two rows running the length of each three-foot-wide bed. I spread out the harvest with four plantings, the first on about the average date of the last frost, mid-May, and the last planting the end of June.

With a variation on traditional corn planting — “one for the rook, one for the crow, …

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Not a Gardener? I’m Honored

Perhaps some one or two of you readers of this blog might be just that — readers, not gardeners. An occasional reader has admitted this to me. Although I feel honored to be read by any non-gardener, herein is my effort to get humus under the fingernails of you gardening equivalents of “Monday night quarterbacks.” 

I reckon that now, when plants are lush and have already offered or are hinting at future offerings of fruits, vegetables, and flowers, is the easiest time of year to spur your enthusiasm. Also, it’s still not too late to start a garden. I started my first garden -– in Wisconsin -– on August 1st and reaped tomatoes, beans, and other vegetables!

I could begin by going on and on about the favorable economics of gardening, wowing you with statistics about how much cheaper it is to grow broccoli, peaches, and tomatoes than …

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Note 1: I have some plants leftover from this past weekend’s  plant sale here at the farmden. Contact me by June 24, 2022 if you’re interested in purchasing to pick up any white currant, black currant, fig, or gooseberry plants (a number of varieties of the latter two).They’re all discounted at 25% off.

Note 2: My farmden is open for a Garden Conservancy Open Day on Saturday, June 18, 2022 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Registration is required, here.  

Shoots versus Fruits

I’ve been playing around with the orientation of some of my trees’ branches to influence how they grow. Branches pointed skyward generally are inherently vigorous, giving rise to long shoots, especially from their topmost buds. At the other extreme are branches oriented horizontally. They’re generally weak-growing, and tend to produce fruit buds rather than vigorous shoots and leaves. The cool thing is that if you or I change branch orientation, it changes …

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Plant Sale

•This year the 14th(?) Annual Plant Sale will be held live, here at Springtown Farmden in New Paltz, NY.
•Plants, available in limited quantities
•Here’s a not necessarily complete list of what’s available (pricing not yet determined):

APPLE (Redfree)
BLUEBERRY (lowbush, Berkeley highbush)
BLACK CURRANT (Belaruskaja, Titania)
RED/WHITE CURRANT (Red Lake, Primus)
FIGS (Sicilian, LSU Purple, Brown Turkey, Rabbi Samuel, San Piero, Unknown)
GOOSEBERRY (Captivator, Chief, Glendale, Poorman, Red Jacket
GRAPE (Glenora, Brianna)
HARDY ORANGE (Poncirus trifoliata)
HAZELNUTS (blight resistant Somerset, Raritan)
MEDLAR (Breda Giant, Puciu Mol)
PEAR (Asian Tsu Li, European Harrow Delight)
TOMATOES (heirloom varieties Valencia, Nepal, Pink Brandywine)

This year, there’ll also be lots of books (in addition to the ones I wrote), some for sale and some free. The books cover a wide range of gardening topics.

Date and Time: June 12, 2022, 9:30 AM – 1:00 PM
Location: Springtown Farmden in New Paltz, NY

Parking is available on the street, in the two driveways …

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What’s Better: Loosy Goosy or Soldier Straight?

I wonder how much our gardens reflect our personalities? Some gardeners clip their yew bushes “plumb and square;” other gardeners clip or shear away at their plants more haphazardly. Even in the vegetable patch, a temperament may be reflected in the way tomatoes are grown: Do the plants sprawl over the ground with abandon, are they contained within strings woven up and down the row, or are they neatly staked? (Woven tomatoes or those grown in wire cages are more or less sprawling plants, held aloft.)

Whatever your temperament, a good case can be made for staking tomatoes. Tomatoes on a staked plant are larger and ripen earlier than those on a sprawling plant. Good air circulation around leaves and fruits of upright plants lessens disease problems. And fruits held high above the ground also are free from dirt and slug bites. You’ll harvest less …

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Last reminder for GROWING FIGS IN COLD CLIMATES webinar. 

Monday, June 6, 2022, 7-9 pm Eastern Time

Cost: $35

Registration is necessary; register and pay (credit card or Paypal) at:

Contact me if you prefer to pay by check.

Learn what makes this subtropical plant so adaptable that you can harvest fresh fruit from it even in cold climates, and practical applications of this information. I’ll cover a few of the methods for being on your way to fig-dom, including winter care, pruning, varieties, and speeding up ripening. There’ll be plenty of time for questions.

San Piero fig, ripe


What and Why?

The Month of May has ended, as has “No Mow May.” If you’ve never heard of “No Mow May,” it’s the rallying cry of a movement that began in the UK, suggesting that all of us who nurture greenswards abandon our efforts for the month of May. In so doing, habitat and food, in the form of early blooming wildflowers such as dandelions, clover, creeping Charlie, and violets, would become more available to early season pollinating insects.

Let’s dive deeper into what “No Mow May” accomplishes, whether this movement has any drawbacks, and, finally, possible alternatives.

A lawn is typically a monoculture, or nearly so. Not mowing during this month when heat and rainfall spur rapid plant growth encourages more diversity, which makes environments more resilient.

Gasoline-powered mowers spew out great quantities of carbon dioxide and pollutants. Over the course of a year, one such machine pollutes the same amount as …

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Transplant Shock

A recent telephone call to my sister caught her setting zucchini transplants in her garden. “Transplanting zucchini?” I queried. “Have some faith in nature.” Transplants on sale this time of year too often entice gardeners to set out set them out in the garden rather than drop seeds into furrows.

I pointed out that not every plant likes to be transplanted. Tomato plants yanked out of the soil will resume growth in a few days if their roots are covered with moist dirt. Roots will sprout even if just a stem is in moist soil. But the roots of plants like corn, poppies, melons, cucumbers, and squashes (zucchini included) resent disturbance. Carrots, parsnips, and many other root crops also transplant poorly. Their taproots become the harvested roots. If bent or broken while young, forked, rather than straight, smooth carrots and parsnips result.

This is not to say that it is impossible …

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Not My Usual Approach

I couldn’t help myself, so yesterday I broke protocol. After quite a few days of bright sunshine with daytime temperatures in the 70s, even the 80s a couple of days, I went ahead and planted all the tomato and pepper plants that I’ve been nurturing since their birth a few weeks ago — six weeks for the tomatoes, ten weeks for the peppers. Looking ahead, warm sunny days should follow, with night temperatures are predicted to dip down only into the 50s.

My usual protocol has been to plant not with my gut, but with the calendar date. Over the years I’m come up with a detailed chart of when to sow and transplant different kinds of vegetables based on the average dates of the last killing frost. Here, that date is around May 21st. Or, it used to be. (That chart — which I included in my …

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Harvesting your own fresh figs, which offer a very different gustatory experience from dried figs, is possible and easy even if you live where winters are cold. Even where summers remain cool. Once you know why fig allows this, various methods can lead you to fig-dom. I’ll cover the why, some of the methods, and detail the all-important methods of pruning.

Date and Time: Monday, June 6, 2022, 7-9 pm Eastern Time
Cost: $35
Space is limited and registration is necessary. Register and pay (credit card or Paypal) here, or at:

Contact me if you’d prefer to pay by check.

Plant Sale

This year the 14th(?) Annual Plant Sale will be held live, here at Springtown Farmden. Plants, available in limited quantities, include mostly fruit plants, including Nanking cherries, grapes, hardy kiwifruit, lowbush blueberry, highbush blueberry, hardy orange, and, of course, figs.

This year, there’ll also be lots of …

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