[title subtitle=”words: Megan Lankford, Horticulture Supervisor, Botanical Garden of the Ozarks”][/title]
After a cold winter and a wet spring, I am itching to get my warm season vegetables in the ground! For those of you in southern Arkansas, by early May you’ve likely already planted your tomatoes and peppers. However, those of us in the more northern areas of the state should wait just a little longer. Arkansas last average frost dates range from the 1st of April to the 20th of May, so be sure to plant your warm season vegetables after the corresponding date for your area.
A recent addition to my summer vegetable garden is Vardaman sweet potatoes. Not only are they easy to grow, but they are a good size for families, make delicious sweet potato fries, and they’re space savers. These compact plants get only about a foot high, and trail along the ground for a mere four feet! Much smaller than many traditional sweet potatoes. Be sure to hill your soil before planting if you have poor drainage.
My absolute favorite pepper to grow right now is the Mad Hatter. It produces all season long, and one plant will keep your garden brimming with these mildly sweet, unique shaped fruits. The seeds can have a mild heat, but nothing that will set your mouth on fire. If you have little ones that like to munch on fresh sweet peppers, be sure to grow two or three plants, instead of just one.
On a closing note, I encourage you to plant annual flowers alongside your vegetables. Not only will you be feeding the pollinators, but you’ll likely be increasing your vegetable yields, as well as encouraging beneficial insects to come to your garden. Zinnia’s are a favorite of butterflies and bees, and you can easily sow seeds directly in the ground. All you need to do is pick your favorite and sow them when you sow your squash.
YOU CAN PLANT:
eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, leeks, basil, sunflowers, fennel, annuals, perennials, trees and shrubs
YOU CAN DIRECT SOW:
arugula, beets, beans, carrots, corn, melons, cucumbers, squash