Q. Is it too late to plant annual flowers and vegetables?
A. If you have seeds left over or can find them at garden centers (Menard's had quite a few left), sow those right into the garden where they should germinate very quickly. Keep them watered as they germinate and develop especially as the weather (if it is normal this year) becomes drier.
• To help the seeds to germinate more quickly, soak them in warm water overnight before sowing them in the garden.
• Some flowers and vegetables that can be planted now and should bloom late and last through an early frost are: pot marigold, zinnia, moss rose, sweet alyssum, cornflower, and the annual Shirley poppy. Some vegetables that do well are the colored lettuces, flower kale, flowering cabbage and chard. Also in late summer, plant cool weather vegetables to enjoy well into cold weather.
• Garden centers will probably be offering annual transplants through most of the summer. Also if you purchase pots of wave petunias, they will give you a big burst of color throughout the summer and they handle cool weather, even light frosts very well.
Q. I know you've talked about slugs in the garden; do you have any new ideas of how to trap them?
A. Don't wait to see holes developing in your plants to combat these nighttime pests — set traps for them early:
• Lay boards on the soil near the plants then check the underside of the piece of wood every morning after the sun comes up and scrape them off into soapy water.
• Also make rolls of wet newspaper and lay them near your plants. Slugs will crawl inside for shelter during the day and instead wind up in the trash.
• Tried and true method is of course the cup of beer or water, sugar, and yeast buried up to the opening in the soil so they can crawl in and drown.
Q. I am seeing a few Japanese beetles in the garden. Do you have suggestions of how to get rid of them without using chemicals?
A. Simple method is gathering them up and drowning them in a pan of soapy water. If they are mainly seen on a favorite plant, shake the plant over the soapy water which will get most of them then if you are squeamish, use gloves to pick them up and drop them in the pan.
• Best advice — do not use the traps. They will draw them by the hundreds, even thousands, from all over the neighborhood and you will have difficulty ever getting rid of all of them.
Q. I've heard that Epsom salts is good for the garden and is considered organic. When should I use it and how?
A. This is excellent to boost blooms on all blooming plants, flowers and vegetables. It is made up of hydrated magnesium sulfate (magnesium and sulfur), which is important to a plants' healthy growth. Any of the following ideas will feed the plant:
• Dissolve a tablespoon in a gallon of water and spray early in the day on the leaves of the plants.
• Dissolve 3 tablespoons in a gallon of water and after you have made sure the soil is hydrated, pour a pint of this mixture at the root level of each plant.
• Before you water, sprinkle the dry salts around the root level of each plant, and then water it in.
Jane Ford is an Advanced Master Gardener. Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. She also answers gardening questions with horticulture educator Ricky Kemery noon-1 p.m. the second and fourth Thursday of each month on "The Plant Medic," a radio show on 95.7fm. This column is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of The News-Sentinel.