It’s not too late to plant tomatoes

There is plenty of time to plant a tomato in June, get some Duke's mayonnaise, and buy a loaf of Sunbeam bread in order to enjoy a luscious sandwich in midfall. (Walter Reeves for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
There is plenty of time to plant a tomato in June, get some Duke's mayonnaise, and buy a loaf of Sunbeam bread in order to enjoy a luscious sandwich in midfall. (Walter Reeves for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Walter Reeves

Credit: Walter Reeves

Q: We are having some work done around our house and will not be able to plant our tomatoes until late June. Is that too late to plant? Or should we wait till next year? Pom, email

A: June is not too late. When you buy a tomato plant, there will be “Days to maturity (or harvest)” listed on the label. This is approximately how long the plant will need before it can start producing tomatoes. In general, most tomato varieties need 100 days to fully mature. There are at least 120 days following late June in which a tomato can grow before the typical first frost in early November. If you want to experiment, there are many tomato varieties that only need 50-60 days to mature. Another alternative is to plant tomatoes in 5-gallon buckets now and move them to your garden when the work is finished.

Q: Is it too late to fertilize my fescue? Nothing has been applied this year. Kippy Hays, Atlanta

A: Fescue lawns much prefer to be fed in the cool months of the year: September-April. Given fertilizer in the summer, fescue grass becomes susceptible to leaf problems. To avoid causing lush, disease-attracting foliage, fertilize fescue now in mid-May using half the rate recommended on the bag. In late June, apply an iron-containing product (Ironite, Ferromec, etc). Begin a normal fertilizer schedule every two months beginning this September.

Q: I need advice on how best to cover the ground in my backyard. It is on the west side of my two-story house and there are lots of tall trees, both of which block sunlight most of the day. I don’t like to water. We tried English ivy many years ago but it took over the entire backyard. I’m not a fan of pine straw and am wondering what other options you suggest. Roger Ignatius, Roswell

A: Even though we think of English ivy as an invasive pest, sometimes it’s the only plant that can grow and spread in heavy shade. I know you tried it before, but consider English ivy again. It needs no irrigation and you could keep it from climbing trees by using a lawn mower or string trimmer to circle each tree and chop off the ivy leaves once or twice a year. There would even be little harm in mowing the whole area in spring each year to keep it looking maintained. I suppose you could plant liriope (monkey grass), Liriope muscari, which will slowly spread in shade. Even better, but harder to find is creeping monkey grass, Liriope spicata. It grows faster than Liriope muscari but neither is as fast as ivy.

Walter’s email address is georgiagardener@yahoo.com. Listen to his comments at 6:35 a.m. on “Green and Growing with Ashley Frasca” Saturday mornings on 95.5 WSB. Visit his website, www.walterreeves.com, follow him on Twitter @walterreeves, on Pinterest, or join his Facebook Page at bit.ly/georgiagardener.

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