BEEhavior: Edna White Garden Installs Insect Observatory 

 

The Edna White Community Garden, 1850 S. Monterey Ave., is a beautiful place to visit. Filled with colorful native plants, bountiful vegetables and herbs (most of which help to feed hungry neighbors), meandering paths and buzzing beehives, it’s a place to truly enjoy nature right here in the neighborhood 

Soon visitors will be offered a chance to get an up-close view of the bees and insects at work with the construction of a bee and insect observatory. 

The structure will overlook the garden’s half dozen beehives on one side and a newly cleared space that will be filled with butterfly and insect-attracting plants on another. glassed in hive will be built into the structure so people can observe the bees making honey and doing other jobs in the hive.  

The new observatory is being funded through an $8,000 grant.The small building will offer safe way to watch bees, butterflies and other insects as they go about their business as essential partners in a successful garden.  

“We wanted to put more emphasis on bees,” said Kathy Figel, executive director of the Garden, explaining that garden visitors frequently stop to watch the bees buzzing around in the fenced-off hive area The garden has two of the hives and beekeeper Cedrick Jordan has four; Figel said they are hoping to add more. The hives yield a modest honey that is offered for sale 

Other projects planned at the garden include putting up a hoop house where solar energy can be used to enable volunteer gardeners to start plants early and extend the growing season longer to maximize the amount of fresh food they can supply to area food pantries. Volunteers from the 19th Ward Mutual Aid organization are installing a refrigerated free box for perishable items next to the existing free box of non-perishable items maintained by Turpin Cares. These boxes offer emergency food to people in need. 

The Edna White Garden invites people to volunteer with gardening chores, and to visit for live music, yoga and meditation classes and other special events, weather permitting. Keep up on events  

 

 

 

 

BIA Selects Beautiful Gardens in North Beverly 

The Beverly Improvement Association (BIA) once again searched for beautiful gardens in North Beverly. According to BIA members Mary and Collins Fitzpatrick, the neighborhood is magnificent and this year’s gardens are filled with colorful flowers and plants in full bloom due to Mother Nature and to the hard work and loving care of its homeowners.  

Gardens selected for special recognition this year are the Wergin garden, 90th and Hamilton; the Sconza garden, 89th and Hamilton; the McFarland and Wallace garden, 92nd and Damen; the Robinson garden, 92nd and Winchester; the Holland garden, 92nd and Pleasant; the Smelser garden, 91st and Hoyne; the MacNamara garden, 89th and Leavitt; the Folsom garden, 91st and Bell; the Allen-Thomas garden, 94th and Claremont andthe Kelly garden, 92nd and Claremont. The 2020 “best block” 88th to 90th on Pleasant.  

 

The Late Summer Garden 

By Barbara Gyarmathy 

The Garden Glory Days are here! August is the time to sit back and enjoy your hard work. But remember to… 

Keep watering!  The garden needs the equivalent of 1 inch of water per week and during especially hot weather, 1 inch every five days. Water deeply one or twice a week, and be sure to include your trees. 

Keep weeding. If you let the weeds flower and go to seed, you will have more next year. 

Check for Japanese beetles.  Control these shiny, metallic, bronze colored beetles by placing a bucket of soapy water or rubbing alcohol beneath the infested plant and knocking the bugs into the bucket. 

For roses, make the last application of a general-purpose rose fertilizer (such as a 10-10-10) around repeat bloomers. 

Irises, peonies and other perennials can be divided in late August and into the fall.  

Deadhead! Cutting back the spent flowers of an annual or perennial, which not only tidies up the garden but may also make room for new flowers. There are three general types of plants to consider when deadheading: 

Perennials such as catmint, bellflower, yarrow, chamomile, coreopsis, phlox, salvia and veronica tend to have a central bloom with several branches that form smaller blooms later. When they’re done blooming, you can cut the entire plant back by a third and wait for a rebloom, or you can remove the large center bloom to encourage the lateral buds to develop into flowers more quickly. Try to cut back to a spot right above a leaf because new buds and branches will likely form at that point.   

Other flowers send up leafless (or mostly leafless) flower stalks from a rosette of basal foliage.   Daylilies, coral bells and irises are good examples. Cut back the stalk to where the foliage begins when all the blooms are done.  Some plants will send up more flower stalks later, some won’t. 

Plants with a mounding habit and produce masses of small flowers such as Moonbeam coreopsis and catmint may benefit from a shearing.  Using pruners, you can take a little off the top, or reduce the plant down to a few inches.  Be sure to leave a little foliage to help plants gather energy and regrowFeed a balanced liquid fertilizer right away and plants will often have a lighter rebloom in a few weeks. 

Cut back straggly annuals like petunias to promote new growth. 

And it’s not too early to begin thinking about next year’s garden!  Begin planning a spring bulb garden and place your orders early. Survey your garden for places to tuck in spring-flowering bulbs, including tulips, daffodils, ornamental onions and others. Two of my favorites are allium azureum (a blue globe) and allium moly (a cheeky yellow). This practice will add color and life to your garden several months before most of your perennials bloom and give you a longer period of gardening satisfaction.   

This is the time to watch for maple tar spots, but don’t worry too much. Initial symptoms on maples are black irregular spots, usually inconspicuous until late summer or early fall.  It is primarily a cosmetic issue that rarely causes any other problems.  The disease is commonly seen on red maples, silver maples and Norway maples. Clean up the infected leaves and place them in the garbage (do not add them to your compost bins.) 

For those of you who feel the lawn in important, water during dry periods by applying 1 to 1 1/2 inches of water per week, and water early in the day to avoid evaporation.  Or better yet, allow the grass to go dormant and only water ¼ to ½ inch of water every two to four weeks to safeguard crowns. It will come back once the weather cools off.   

Mow lawns higher, about 2 ½-3 inches. 

Avoid applying nitrogen fertilizer during hot, dry conditions and avoid using post-emergent herbicides during hot weather when lawns are dormant. 

   

 

Council Oak Montessori School Collaborates with Forest Preserves for Virtual Lesson 

 

In keeping with Council Oak Montessori School’s commitment to forming meaningful relationships with its wider community, the school has been engaged in a number of projects with the Cook County Forest Preserves. In 2018 COMS elementary programs received classroom grants to build and maintain gardens on campus. Shortly thereafter, the Forest Preserves of Cook County, Department of Conservation and Experimental Programming assisted in helping the school get started on transforming their plastic and rubber playground into a nature playspace, incorporating items found in nature over artificial structures. 

 

In Montessori education, the outdoor classroom is just as important as the indoor ones. While the COVID-19 mandated shutdown prevented COMS students from joining CCFP staff at the Cal-Sag that runs along the southern end of the school’s property as per our original plans, the collaboration still happened. The team of specialists taught students about crayfish and other invasive species to Illinois waterways through a different medium. On May 14th, 4th through 8th grade students of Council Oak Montessori School (COMS) completed a virtual program with COMS staff and Adam Kessel, the program director at Cook County Forest Preserves. 

 

When they are able to come together in person, COMS incorporates their natural spaces as an integral part of their curriculum. The school’s extensive outdoor space and proximity to the Cal-Sag allows students to engage with nature and become true stewards of local plants, wildlife, and prairie restoration. 

 

Illinois is home to 23 different species of crayfish, and the team of specialists set out to catch and identify some. Students learned that not all the crayfish they find in the wild are native. Instead, there are a variety of invasive species in Illinois which “bully” other species and disrupt local ecosystems. 

 

Some invasive species are introduced after being kept as pets and released into the wild, while others are migrating to new areas as our climate continues to warm. The goal of this team of experts was to catch and identify crayfish, monitoring whether invasive species are appearing in new areas, and containing those populations before they take over.  

 

Although no crayfish showed up in this field experiment (one of those realities of science), students did get to see a dragonfly nymph and two baby fish (called “fries”). Students also learned about anatomy of crayfish and how to identify different species of crayfish. They also learned to identify crayfish “chimneys” or tubes in the mud that they breathe through while they hide below. 

 

The specialists at the Cook County Forest Preserves hold special qualifications and permits in order to do much of the field work from this collaboration. However, they gave some advice for students interested in citizen science projects. If you find crayfish when you’re out on a hike, take a picture. You can then go onto websites like iNaturalist, and Chicago Wildlife Watch. If you’re interested in other citizen science you can check out eBird, and Project Budburst. 

 

Council Oak Montessori School is immensely thankful for everyone from the Cook County Forest Preserves for this wonderful opportunity to expand our outdoor curriculum. In the future, COMS hopes to continue using their garden and prairie restoration space for educating students about the world around them. For 30 years Council Oak Montessori School has been committed to educating the whole child in a way that makes learning inspirational. This partnership shows that this commitment continues even during distance learning. 

 

Council Oak Montessori School’s remote learning is continuing in a strong way through the end of the semester, including the outdoor program. They plan to return to our classrooms this Fall and also plan to have a simultaneous distance learning program. If you are interested in applying, or just want to learn more about Council Oak Montessori School, please email dave@counciloakmontessori.org or visit their website at www.counciloakmontessori.org  

Kellogg’s Habitat for the Community

By Tina Jenkins Bell 
BAPA School Liaison 

Recently, the Kate Starr Kellogg Elementary School received a $10,000 grant to build a pollinator habitat in front of the school from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation. 

“Environmental education fits into the school’s International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme curriculum. Our kids learn to think globally and the health of the planet fits into that,” said lead organizer of Kellogg’s Garden Club Emily Lambert, commenting on the importance of the school’s garden and pollinator habitats. 

Pollinator habitats attract honey beeswild bees and other pollinators, which pollinate more than $15 billion worth of crops in the United States each year, according to US Department of Agriculture. On a local level since pollen promotes fertilization, the better off are area gardens and plant life.  

The idea of the of an expanded pollinator habitat on Kellogg grounds came from Garden Club volunteer, Local School Council member, and Kellogg neighbor David Perry. Perry thought the area, soon to be replaced by the habitat, was unloved and underutilized. Neighbor and landscape architect Mike Mazza of MZA Design volunteered to design the habitat, which will transform the area between the front walkway and the playground into a festive greenspace. Mazza also contributed plants. Kristin LoVerde, from Sutherland Elementary School, and Val Kehoe, from the University of Illinois Extension, helped with advice and other information for completing the grant. 

Kellogg is known for its beautiful grounds and garden. The pollinator habitat will expand the school’s existing pollinator, from only two bee hives to also include a butterfly-pollinator garden on the south side of the school. Though the group has until next year to complete the project, Lambert hopes the garden will be up and running in June of this year. 

“The plan Kellogg posted says “Phase 2” on it, which is because we’d like to eventually expand the habitat so that it flanks the front entrance. We’ll need to raise more funds to do that, so (the addition of the butterfly pollinator) is the latest expansion, but hopefully it won’t be the last,” Lambert said.  

Students assisted with the preparation of the grant by measuring the space for the garden. During the summer, student volunteers water the garden and assist with planting 

“Gardening is happening and being shared by Kellogg students virtually even with the school closure,” Principal Cory Overstreet said.  

After the quarantine, Lambert hopes to continue to remotely share Kellogg’s gardens and pollinator habitats to educate school and community families in addition to students not involved in the Garden Club.  

“We could certainly video the planting (from a distance) and share that online. We could also show and describe some of the plants on Kellogg’s website and Facebook pages,” Lambert said. 

Principal Overstreet credits the school’s Garden Club with acquiring the grant. The club, which meets year-round, consists of parent, student, and community volunteers and is one of Kellogg’s most popular after school programs. 

Neighbors have shared with me that they love seeing Kellogg’s gardens coming back to life and expanding. It makes them smile when walking through the neighborhood,” he said.  

Things to Do in the June Garden

By Barbara Gyarmathy 
Master Gardener 
Much of the effort to plant our gardens has been accomplished by now. June is the month to reap the rewards of all that work and rest in the assurance the garden will now grow on auto-pilot.  You still need to be attentive to weeds and water but your winter dreams will now become reality to behold. Keep up with the following tasks: 

Move your houseplants outside to a shady location when nighttime temperatures are above 50 degrees. 

Water flowerbeds deeply – 1 to 1½ inches  of water per week, preferably using slow-drip systems.  If using a sprinkler or hose, early morning is best.  A native garden, by the third year, will not need to be watered except in cases of drought. 

Watch for Japanese beetles at the end of the month. If there are only a few, flip them with your fingertips into a jar of soapy water. If necessary, contact the local Extension office for suggestions on chemical controls. 

Apply a balanced fertilizer, such as 10-10-10, to roses at the end of the spring bloom. 

Try adding large containers with tropical plants to areas that need extra color and drama.  Bananas, caladium, elephant ears and palms work well. 

Speaking of color and drama, take time to see the Roy Diblik Garden of Living Art at the Beverly Arts Center, 111th and Western.  Located off the parking lot on the left side of courtyardit was planted last year by Diblik and members of the Morgan Park Beverly Hills Garden club. A seasoned gardener will tell you a newly planted garden “sleeps” the first year, the second year it “creeps” and the third year it “leaps. This garden, though newly planted, is already leaping.   

Diblik focuses on creating native gardens and is very mindful of having constant color or interesting textural elements in all four seasons.  Bulbs, grasses, carex and native perennials are used.  This summer, look for allium moly (lily leek) and allium schnoprasum (chives)salvia nemorosa (Wesuwe and Snowhill), allium angulosum (Summer Beauty), seslaria caerulea (spring moor grass), and calamintha nepeta (catmint).  In the fall salidago sphacelata (Wichita Mountain), asters (Twilight and Avondale) and Molina moor grass (Transparent) will take the stage. 

The garden looks different every week, so treat yourself to several visits!      

Farmers Market Vendors Offer Merchandise for Pickup and Delivery 

By Erin Ross, Executive Director 
95th Street Business Association 

There are so many things we are all missing during these uncertain days. Those of us who work hard to bring you the 95th Street Farmers Market are especially missing hosting the market and visiting with our patrons each week. We receive questions each day asking, “When will the market open?” “What will the market look like if/when it is allowed to operate?” The truth is we simply do not know. 

Although ours is a private market (meaning it operates independently of the City of Chicago Farmers Markets), we are subject to the rules and guidelines set by the city because our market takes place in a cityowned lot. The city currently has a moratorium on markets because it is difficult to ensure social distancing in this type of environment.  

While we wait for an update from the city, there are many opportunities for our neighbors to suppport our wonderful 95th Street Farmers Market vendors. These options are updated on the 95th Street Farmers Market Facebook page as new enhancements are offered. Here is a summary of what is available from the vendors: 

AndySunflower Café: Place orders online at andysunflowercafe.com for curbside pickup. Andy operates inside of Ain’t She Sweet Café, 9920 S. Western 

Beverly Dry Goods: This vendor is opening a store on Walden Parkway! Stay tuned for info on the grand opening, and visit their website, beverlydrygoods.com, to place orders. They offer free delivery in our area or can arrange curb side pickup. 

Breadman Baking Company: Many products are available for home delivery twice a week. Visit farmersfreshdelivery.com to order. 

C & D FarmsHome delivery to our area is available on Tuesdays and Saturdays each week. In addition to their products (meat, eggs, etc.), they deliver for Breadman Baking Company and John Bailey Honey. Order online at farmersfreshdelivery.com. 

Coco’s Tamales:  Coco offers weekend delivery. Call 708-238-4543 for product information and to place an order. 

Down to Earth Beverly Are you looking for seedlings? Down to Earth Beverly is operating a virtual market featuring over 200 varieties of organic heirloom seedlings. Info/orders: downtoearthbeverly.square.site. 

Emmy and J Dips. Order online at emmyandjgourmet.com. 

Erin Cox Designs: Beautiful floral arrangements are always a hit. Visit Erin Cox Designs on Facebook for information and to send her a message. 

Ida’s Sweet Tooth: Order a variety of baked goods at idassweettooth.com. 

John Bailey Honey: Missing the honey and maple syrup? These products are available for home delivery twice a week. Order at farmersfreshdelivery.com 

Lafevor Farm and Greenhouses: A popular produce vendor, they are launching their ecommerce site June 1. Visit their Facebook page, Lafevor Farm and Greenhouses, for information. Specifics about their new platform will be posted on the 95th Street Farmers Market page as soon as it is live. 

Sitka Salmon: Sitka is offering several discounts. Visit sitkasalmonshares.com  to place an order and have it shipped to your home.  

Stamper Cheese:  Stamper offers monthly, no-contact delivery to the market lot. Visit stampercheese.net to sign up for their emails and stay posted on when they are taking online orders.  

Sweet Freaks Chocolates: Call 773-610-6320 to place an order for curbside pickup. 

The 95th Street Farmers Market vendors appreciate your support and hope to see you later this summer! 

Clean, Green, and COVID-19 

 

BAPA Encourages the Community to Keep the Environment in Mind During the Stay at Home Order 

By Cathriona Fey, BAPA Community Outreach & Improvement 

For 50 years, the month of April has been the month to honor our Earth and bring attention to ways to protect our planet for future generations. This April, Earth Day celebrationwere put on hold as we found ourselves learning to navigate a new normal, trying out new schedules, and adjusting to socially distant lifestyles 

BAPA had to make adjustments in April as well, canceling or postponing community events, including the annual Clean and Green. To promote Earth Day, BAPA created the 7-Day Earth Day Challenge via Facebook and Instagram for residents to participate in while sheltering in place. BAPA encourages the community to continue thinking about the environment, finding simple changes to implement at home to decrease our carbon footprint, and discovering other ways our individual contributions can make an impact 

Take the Earth Day Challenge in May 

For residents who missed the 7-Day Earth Day Challenge in April, pick a week this month and complete the Challenge outlined below. Checkout BAPA on Facebook and Instagram for more information and ideas for each day and be sure to tag BAPA and #bapaearthdaychallenge to show us your challenge efforts. 

Day 1: Conduct a Plastic Audit at Home 

DAY 2: Create Earth Day Art  

DAY 3: Pick Your Own Clean and Green Beverly/Morgan Park Location  

DAY 4: ReadDon’t Stream 

DAY 5: Go Plant-Based for One Meal  

DAY 6: Take a Clean and Green Walk 

DAY 7: Make a Plan for your Home Garden and/or Compost Bin  

Reduce Paper Towel Usage  

Sheltering in place during a worldwide pandemic virus has many residents spending more time cleaning and disinfecting their home and belongings. This increase in cleaning has also brought about an increase in paper towel consumption. Every day over 3,000 tons of paper towel waste is produced in the United States alone. To put that into perspective, to make one ton of paper towel, 17 trees are cut down and 20,000 gallons of water are consumedAccording to the EPA, paper makes up the largest share of municipal waste in the U.S. and because paper towel sheets are typically wet or dirty when we are done with them, they are not recyclable.   

Cutting back on your use of paper towels is not only environmentally-friendly, but also budget-friendly. If every household in the U.S. used just one less 70-sheet roll of paper towels, that would save 544,000 trees each year. With families using on average 80 rolls of paper towel per person per year, for the average family of four, that’s $320 year (at $1 per roll). Save money and have a positive impact on the environment by implementing these easy steps at home to cutback on paper towel use: 

Fold single sheets of paper towel instead of grabbing multiple sheets. 

Use cloth napkins for meals. 

Save carryout meal napkins (or say no to napkins when ordering!). 

Try cotton car towels for tougher jobs. 

Create your own cleaning and dusting rags using old t-shirts and pillowcases. 

Designate a cloth towel for hand drying. 

Put away your paper towel holder. 

Make Sustainability a Family Affair  

With schools closed for the remainder of the school year, the increase in family time is an opportunity to teach children the importance of reducing our impact on the environment. Use every day opportunities to talk about topics such as conserving energy, reducing food waste, limiting water consumption and decreasing vehicle mileage to increase your child’s awareness and encourage them to be greener. Try some of these family-friendly green ideas: 

Complete the BAPA 7- Day Earth Day Challenge as a family. 

Create “Green Goals” for the household that reduce waste and energy consumption. 

Designate roles to put family members in-charge of turning off light switches and water faucets, and unplugging devices when not in use. 

Plan walkable and bikeable routes that can replace car travel. 

Plant a family garden that includes a favorite food of each family member. 

The health and safety of you and your family are top priority during this time. When taking into consideration the health of our Earth, we ask that you do so while continuing to practice social distancing as we work to minimize the spread of COVID-19 in our community 

Growing for Good: Edna White Garden 

By Kristin Boza 

The Edna White Community Garden, 1850 W. Monterey Ave., is known as a place to unwind, gather, and grow a variety of vegetables and plants. This year, the garden and its organizers are re-starting a vegetable growing program to benefit the Maple Morgan Park Food Pantry, donating fresh foods all throughout the summer and early fall.  

Kathy Figel, Community Organizer for the Edna White Community Garden, has worked tirelessly to ensure the mission of the garden as an open community space has persevered, despite many obstacles over the decades. The vegetable growing and donation program is back after a hiatus, particularly now that the food pantry is in need of even more food for needful families in the 60643 and 60655 zip codes. Volunteers are greatly needed to help garden, harvest, and deliver the fresh vegetables to the Food Pantry, which is located at 110th and Longwood Drive. 

“It’s relatively easy to grow vegetables in our garden; we have great soil, ample water, and full sun. The difficult part is the labor involved in picking and delivering the yield,” Figel said. “The greens especially grow so fast that you need to be out there daily to harvest them. We are asking for volunteers who have any level of experience and the time to consistently help out.” 

To propel the program forward, Figel has partnered with the University of Illinois Extension, which has offered three Master Gardeners to help volunteers cultivate and harvest the crops, as well as planning the garden 

“We will pair volunteers with a Master Gardener who will teach them how to plant seeds correctly and properly harvest the plants,” Figel said. “We are growing these vegetables to help people survive, so it’s essential that we maintain a certain amount of organization! Having the knowledge from the Master Gardeners will help us greatly with what will work best in our plots.” 

Aside from the plots dedicated to the food pantry, anyone in the community is welcome to rent a bed for $30 a year, plus 10 hours of community service in the garden, according to Figel. Beekeepers are also welcome for a $30 fee, and the garden is greatly stimulated by the abundance of pollinators at the site.  

“The whole idea behind the garden is to cultivate community by bringing people of all walks of life together,” Figel said. “People have been practicing social distancing and cleaning up and prepping the garden in April. The beds are ready to go for planting as soon as we get an extended amount of warm weather. 

To get involved in volunteering to grow vegetables for the Maple Morgan Park Food Pantry, contact Kathy Figel, kathyfigel@icloud.com, and join the Edna White Gardens group on Facebook.   

 

 

 

 

 

 

Things to Do in the May Garden

By Barbara Gyarmathy, Master Gardener

“Some of what happens to nature is beyond our control. But not our backyards. This is where we can do our bit to help the insects, butterflies, birds and animals that are necessary to life. The key word is habitat. It’s being lost all over the world, and with it, the biodiversity that’s essential to life on the planet. It’s up to us to put it back. One backyard at a time.”

— Carolyn Ulrich, Editor, Chicagoland Gardening Magazine

Non-native plant species provide on average 68% less food for insects and birds than native plants, and the good news is no yard is too small to go with earth-friendly native plants.

Consider these possibilities: Stachys ‘Hummelo’ (Perennial Plant Association’s Plant of the Year in 2019), Allium ‘Millenium’ (Plant of the Year 2018); monarda and milkweeds for our monarch butterflies and Calamintha nepetha for our bees; Little Blue Stem and Prairie Dropseed are favorite grasses; tithonia and zinnias are unsurpassed annuals providing both the nectar and habitat necessary for healthy native ecology.

Soon, a wide variety of native plants will be available in Beverly/Morgan Park when the second location for City Grange opens at 1818 W. 99th St. City Grange, Chicago’s only independent social-enterprise gardening company, offers organic and pesticide-free plants and seeds, soil and other gardening supplies.  City Grange has expanded it delivery zone to include Beverly/Morgan Park and they are offering online gardening classes. Find info at www.citygrange.com.

So now is the time to make your dream garden a reality. What tasks are at hand?

Continue to look for winter injury on trees and shrubs. Winter injury can occur on almost any plant, particularly those subject to drought stress, drying winds and plants growing outside their adapted range. Boxwood, azalea, rhododendron, arborvitae, juniper and many fruit trees are susceptible to winter kill. Leaves are usually the first to die, followed by buds and then the smaller twigs. Prune out twigs and branches that have not leafed out or consider removing extensively damaged plants.

Annuals and perennials can be planted in mid to late May. This is also the time to plant summer and fall-flowering bulbs such as dahlias, cannas, tuberous begonias, caladium, crocosmia, freesia, gladiolus or calla lilies.

When space is limited, consider implementing “edible landscaping.” Edible plants can be tucked into traditional ornamental landscapes. For example, add colorful lettuces, red mustard, or Swiss chard to your flower bed alongside annuals. Create edible containers that mingle with containers of tropical or annuals. The edibles will blend in best if you select dwarf varieties.

Apply mulch around plants when soil has warmed, usually late May. Never apply more than 2 inches and keep mulch pulled away from the plant crowns to prevent insect or disease problems. Consider planting closer, so less mulch is used.

Pinch off a ½ inch of the stems of chrysanthemums, asters, phlox, bee balm and sedum when they reach 6-7 inches tall. Pinching back shoots through June will increase the health of the plant and keep it from becoming straggly.

Remove spent flowers from spring bulbs, but allow bulb foliage to die back naturally. Leaves make food resources, which are stored in the bulbs for next year.

After mid-May:

Plant transplants of tomatoes, peppers and eggplant. Choose disease resistant varieties. Stake or cage plants and allow proper spacing.

Plants seeds of cucumbers and squash. Train these vining vegetables to some type of support such as existing fences, poles, wire cages and trellises.

Plant a selection of warm-season herbs including basil, rosemary, parsley and cilantro.

Prune spring-flowering shrubs right after they bloom (before next year’s buds are being formed).

And enjoy. The sunshine and increase in temperatures are so welcome by now. The scent of the fresh earth and listening to the flocks of geese flying overhead will diminish stress!