After a cold and wet winter, our spring has followed a different path than last year. Drier, warmer and more abundant sunlight has followed until this week.

This should make the home gardener and commercial growers feel a little better about having a successful go with their early crops of corn, lettuces, squash, cucumbers and other seasonal vegetables.

Just because we’re into June doesn’t mean it is too late to plant heat-loving field peas and asparagus beans or warm season legumes like black-eyed peas, purple hull peas, snap beans, bush beans or the more productive pole beans.

For quicker production, the bush green beans like ‘Contender’ or ‘Tender Crop’ generally take 50-55 days from planting to maturity whereas the pole bean varieties such as ‘Kentucky Wonder 125’, ‘Blue Wonder’ or ‘Blue Lake’ take up to 70 days to reach maturity.

It is up to your taste buds as to which is better. I’ve heard folks “discuss” that culinary delectability many times over the years. To me, it is up to the “chef and how they fix their beans as to which is better. I’ve grown both pole and bush beans over the years, and they all are open to the same pressures from insects and fungi, but these mentioned above and other new varieties have been bred to be resistant to common bean mosiac virus (CBMV) and rust fungi.

For those of you who took advantage of our Halifax VCE and Soil and Water joint rain barrel workshops, I think you will get a lot of use out of these water savers this year based on what the National Weather Service forecast shows for the next 30-60 days.

If you are thinking about running a drip irrigation line through your tomato patch before the plants begin to sprawl, now is the time to do it.

Now is the time to cut and dry bunches of thyme, oregano and mint that took off with these dryer warmer days we have just experienced.

Traditionally, many herbs were dried by hanging and air drying. This is still a useful practice today and requires no special equipment. Take stems and bundle them together. Tie the bundles and hang them where the temperatures are at least 50°F. and humidity is low. Stems may take a week or more to dry.

Once dry, then storing them correctly will preserve its essence and flavor. Put the dried herbs in an airtight container in a dim to dark area. Light and moisture will degrade most herb’s flavor.

In your landscape flowerbeds or containers, it is time to pull up pansies and replace them with annual vinca, zinnias, celosia or petunias. For those of you who frequent the Gulf Coast of Florida, you see that folks down there get celosias to come back year after year as a perennial, but here, it is an annual.

If you want the low growing zinnias, you may want to stick with the “Peter Pan” varieties. They usually only grow to 12”.

Whenever there isn’t at least an inch of rain per week, irrigate around the dripline of all of the newly planted fruit trees and bushes that you put in this spring. After the first year, barring a moderate to severe drought, you normally don’t have to worry too much about watering as roots should have established themselves and will find moisture.

Speaking of watering plants, check moisture daily in plant containers, hanging baskets and window boxes. Terracotta containers dry out especially fast. If you have vegetables in containers, they will show signs of distress quickly if there isn’t enough moisture available.

McCaleb is a program Assistant, agriculture and natural Resources and the Master Gardener coordinator for the Virginia Cooperative Extension.