Weather extremes are  being experienced here in New England during this crazy month of May. April brought a heat wave pushing plants far ahead of schedule, forcing tender new growth to develop and then on the 11th of May we had cold snap and frost. Many buds were killed as well as new leaves damaged by the frost. Japanese maples and hydrangeas were particularly hard hit. The damage at first just appears as wilted foliage, but as the days pass, those leaves  develop white areas then turn crispy brown before they drop. Some plants are only damaged on the top while others are completely defoliating. The good news is, if you leave the plants alone they will produce new leaves in a few weeks. Keep plants well watered to help the re-leafing process.

Last night’s rain and thunderstorms should have cleaned the air of those white fuzzy things floating everywhere. They are seeds of the Poplar or Cottonwood tree, Populus deltoides.

Populus deltoides

This week brought record heat of 99 degrees F! Cool weather loving plants like radish, pansy, spinach and early lettuce will bolt to the seed stage or melt away in this type of heat. Warm season crops will love the ground warming weather but may not have developed a strong root system to deliver enough water to transpiring leaves emitting moisture. The result of giving off too much moisture from the leaves faster than the roots can replace it is shown by wilting. Provide new transplants with shade  and plenty of water. Mulch the soil to keep it cool, trapping in moisture.  Tomatoes, peppers and other warm season crops can be planted into the garden now without the danger of frost, I hope!

Speaking of vegetables brings hopes of bountiful gardens and large harvests, usually more than one household can consume. Think about donating some of your excess fruits and vegetables to organizations that typically do not receive or have access to farm fresh produce. One way is through Ample Harvest, a program to do just that, started by Gary Oppenheimer, founder of He is a Master Gardener from New Jersey who grew this idea in one year into a nationwide success.   Their philosophy is simply stated below.

“A nationwide effort to educate, encourage and enable gardeners with extra produce to easily donate to a local food pantry. gives food pantries the opportunity to be listed in a central nationwide directory so that gardeners can share their fresh produce and, garden-by-garden, help diminish hunger in America.”

Gary has requested we pass on the information to backyard gardeners everywhere.

I would very much appreciate it if you would help by:

  1. Letting your network of friends/family around the country know about it (just send them to – the home page explains it all), and ask that any who know of a food pantry in their community urge it to register at  Although nearly 2,000 food pantries spread across all 50 states already participate, many more can and should be taking advantage of it
  2. Letting your gardening friends around the country know that when they harvest their fruit & veggies, they can donate the excess garden produce to a local food pantry… and they can find one at
  3. If you know of companies/organizations/foundations that fund anti-hunger efforts, please let me know.  Operating on the national scale that it has achieved requires funding and we’ve started our outreach.   The good news is that given the design of the Campaign, it generates a huge bang for the buck – something donor organizations appreciate.