Month: May 2020

News from the Research Desk Blog

Beans: Bush, Pole, Snap, and Shell

The end of May is typically a great time to plant any type of bean in the northeast region of Illinois. Usually by this time, the danger of frost has passed and the soil has warmed sufficiently.

Generally, beans need to be grown in a location that receives full sun for at least 6 hours a day and can be grown successfully in most soil conditions. Successive plantings every 2-4 weeks until early August will provide a continuous harvest throughout the summer and early fall.

beans

Plant seeds of all varieties one inch deep. Plant seeds of bush beans 2 to 4 inches apart in rows at least 18 to 24 inches apart. Plant seeds of pole beans 4 to 6 inches apart in rows 30 to 36 inches apart; or in hills (four to six seeds per hill) 30 inches apart, with 30 inches between rows.

University of Illinois Extension: Watch Your Garden Grow

Bush beans are the easiest to grow and the most common in home gardens. Pole beans must be supported so pods are off the ground and kept dry. There are many varieties that can be grown as green/snap beans and/or shell beans.

Beans are harvested in three different stages for cooking: they can be picked early when they are tender (green/snap beans); removed from fresh pods (shell beans); or left on the vine to dry (dried beans). Most bean varieties can be frozen and/or dried and stored for use throughout the year. Beans are a versatile vegetable and it’s no surprise that they are one of the most popular vegetables in home gardens.

For a selection of current magazines related to vegetable gardening (or any subject you can imagine!) check out our offerings from RB Digital.  You will need your current MPPL Library card number and PIN–then follow the instructions to get started.

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Planting Out in the Garden

tomato seedlingMemorial Day weekend is the time to plant vegetable gardens for many home gardeners. Generally, the weather is favorable for planting warm weather vegetables, but each year’s specific conditions need to be considered individually.

Make sure seedling are hardened off and ready to go in the ground. There’s no harm in waiting a few days/week before planting to ensure proper timing, otherwise there’s a risk of damaging young seedlings if they are not ready or weather conditions are not ideal.  It’s best to plant on a cloudy day or later in the evening. Young seedlings can get stressed if planted during the heat of the day, especially if it is hot and sunny.

Handle plants with care. About an hour before transplanting, thoroughly water plants and soil in the containers (pots, bands, flats, etc.). Roots of plants in flats should be blocked out with a knife to get as much soil as possible with each root. Carefully remove plants without disturbing the roots. Keep a ball of soil around the roots. Keep the roots moist at all times when they are out of the soil.

University of Illinois Extension: Illinois Vegetable Garden Guide

For more information, please log in to the Web Resources page (MPPL card number and PIN required) and access Article Finder. There, you can search for current how-to gardening articles (try using the terms: “planting tomatoes,” or “vegetable gardening”).

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Hardening Off

pepper plant seedlingsThe average date for the last frost in this area is May 15, though each year’s weather conditions can vary widely. Early to mid-may is generally the time to start the hardening off process for tender vegetable seedlings started indoors, e.g. tomatoes, peppers, squash, cucumbers, basil etc. Hardening off in preparation for planting out in the garden involves slowly exposing young seedlings to the elements to strengthen them.

 

About 2 weeks prior to transplanting plants outside, it is recommended to start the hardening off process. Start by placing plants outside during the warmer part of the day (typically between 12-5 PM) for about 2-3 hours; gradually increasing the amount of time each day. After working the plants up to being outside for 10-12 hours a day for a few days, leave the plants outside for 24 hours for a couple days. Once you complete this, your plants are ready for transplanting. During this period of hardening off, gradually reduce how often you water; however, don’t allow the plants to wilt. It is also not recommended to fertilize the plants before or during the hardening off period.

Illinois Extension: Good Growing

Now that the days are warming up, it’s safe to bring seedlings outside to acclimate. It’s best to place them in a shady and not too windy spot the first time they are exposed to the elements. Strong sunlight can quickly burn young leaves and strong wind can be equally as damaging to tender stems and leaves. A warm and shady place is the best bet for the first time outdoors.tomato seedlings

Hardening off seedlings requires consistent attention: seedlings need to be transferred outside and back inside for several days, placed in and out of shade when outside (too much mid-day direct sun too soon should be avoided) and sheltered from strong winds. Weather conditions and nighttime temperatures need to be monitored regularly. Temps may still dip in to the lower to mid 40’s, in which case the seedlings will need to be brought back in so they are not damaged by the cold, even later in the process. A good rule of thumb is to begin to leave seedlings out all night only when they are ready and the nighttime temperatures are above 50 degrees. After a few days of being out all day and night, the seedlings are ready to be set out in the garden.

For more information, please log in to the Web Resources page (MPPL card number and PIN required) and access Article Finder. There, you can search for current how-to gardening articles (try using the terms: “hardening off,” or “vegetable gardening”).

If you need assistance with access or other questions, please contact us via Live Chat: bit.ly/MPPLlivechat; email: info@mppl.org; or phone: 224-210-5198, if we don’t answer, please leave a message–we’ll call you back.