HELLO SUMMER, ADIOS SPRING!
BY MODEL GARDENER KELLY EMBERG
After June 21st, the days start getting longer and too hot to plant those cool-season crops. It’s even getting a little warm for those tender warm-season transplants and seedlings. Focus your attention on planting what you can and harvesting any cool-season crops left in your garden. FYI, you better hurry up!
- Once the weather gets hot, your cool-season crops will not do so well. Harvest them and replace with new warm-season veggies.
Mulch around plants to keep roots cool and moisture in.
- Insects will begin to appear in May. Lace bugs, white fly, aphids, slugs and snails.
- Deciduous fruit trees will need to be well-watered starting this month. Build water basins around trees to prevent run-off. Not a good time to prune.
- Fruit should have set on some of your early fruiting trees. Cover them with bird netting to protect from bird damage.
- Start to weed your garden daily! It’s amazing how fast they grow. If you pull them young, it is much easier!
- June & July are the driest months. Water slowly, 5 or 6 inches deep, letting the soil dry between waterings. Don’t over water!
- Deep watering will force roots to grow downward, where moisture is more easily accessible.
- Apply a 3 to 4-inch layer of mulch around the roots of your plants to retain moisture during the dry summer months.
- June is a little hot to plant most edibles. So be sure to water your delicate plants before and after you plant.
- On really hot days, put shade cloth over tomatoes and new transplants. Make sure they still have airflow.
- Combine plants to maximize shade and nutrients. This is called companion planting. The “Three Sisters” is a technique where you plant corn first, then pole beans, which add nitrogen to the soil and utilizes the corn to climb on. Then plant pumpkins or squash; its large leaves provide shade for the roots of the corn and beans.
WHAT TO PLANT
PLANT IN THE GROUND:
Remember, pick somewhere in your garden that has 6-8 hours of direct sun for all vegetables and herbs. Basil plants can go in now, as well as most herbs. Transplants like lavender, marjoram, rosemary and thyme flourish in our Mediterranean-type climate.
Transplants – eggplant, sweet potatoes, okra, onions, cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers.
Plant from seeds – all kinds of beans, summer squash, melons, cucumber and corn.
PLANT IN THE GROUND:
You can plant all the above but remember your crop might be cut short when and if early cool weather comes along. Especially if you live inland.
Last call to plant corn, if you plant early in the month.
Start planting your pumpkins now. It takes from 75 to 100 days to harvest so if you want pumpkins for October, start now!
TOMATOES – my favorite thing to grow! If you are going to only plant one thing, you have to plant tomatoes! They always taste better if they are homegrown.
Mid to late June is the best time to plant tomatoes because they love the heat. But make sure you protect those tender seedlings once they go in.
- Always look for transplants that are sturdy and a vibrant green. Find ones that are 3 to 6 inches tall, and come in six-pack or four-pack trays for success. Believe it or not, bigger isn’t always better! More mature plants are more susceptible to transplant shock.
- Avoid plants where its roots are pushing against the walls of the container and growing out of the bottom.
- Don’t select transplants that already have flowers or fruit and pinch off any flowers before planting. This directs the energy to the roots which will promote a stronger, healthier plant and better harvest!
- To avoid transplant shock, place young plants outside for a couple of days to acclimate.
- Once planted, stake appropriately.
- Tomatoes like to be deeply watered at the roots when the soil is dry. Water daily when tomatoes are planted in pots or when it’s really hot. Dodge the leaves when watering to prevent fungus growth.
TIP – Once your tomatoes start to color it’s time to pick them; no need to wait till they ripen on the vine. If left, your tomato plant will start stealing the sugar back! Besides, the longer you leave them on the vine, the more they are exposed to sunburn, insects, deer and rodents which reduces your harvest in the end.
INSECTS & DISEASE TO WATCH OUT FOR:
- Some common problems to look for in gardens starting in May and into the warm-season are: gray leaf spot, leaf miner, blossom end rot, powdery mildew, aphids, spider mites, and hornworms. You might have missed the cucumber beetle because they emerge early spring. Starting your warm-season planting late could have some benefits.
- Hose off squash and pumpkin foliage early in the morning to remove fungus spores that cause powdery mildew and allow leaves to dry completely before night falls.
- To remove tomato hornworms, lightly sprinkle plants with water, which will make the worms wiggle, which will make them easier to find and pick off.
- Never water your garden late in the day as many bacterial and fungal diseases thrive and develop overnight in warm, moist, dark conditions.
QUICK SUMMER CROPS
These quick-maturing vegetable crops will be ready to harvest in and about two months, after you plant them.
Snap bean varieties: including Blue Lake, Derby, Cherokee Wax and Gold Crop all take between 50 and 60 days to mature for harvest. Some varieties of summer squash also mature in less than two months: Patty-pan, Aristocrat green zucchini, various crooknecks and others. Early Girl tomato 50 days to harvest, Sun Gold 65 days, Black Cherry 64 days, Black Prince 70 – 90 days.
One might assume warm-season veggies can be planted all through the summer months. But the truth be told, even the shortest – season veggies take at around 50 days till maturity. It is good practice to get a jump on planting in the Spring.
Not to worry, you still have some time! What are you waiting for? Pull out those garden tools and get planting now!
Kelly Emberg, the model gardener
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