Vegetable gardens that were planted in the early spring are giving a bountiful harvest of peas, lettuce, spinach, greens, and even early onions. If your onions and lettuce start to bolt – putting up a flower stalk, their season is over, and you need to harvest and use them. Cutting off the flower stalk will not result in any more growth.
As you harvest the cool season vegetables replant summer vegetables. There is still plenty of time for tomatoes, eggplant, squash, cucumbers, and peppers, and it is the perfect time for the heat loving okra and southern peas.
Don’t start your pumpkins until early July, so they get ripe in time for Halloween.
Mulch your vegetable gardens to keep weeds at bay and to keep moisture in. Layer sheets of newspaper and put some shredded leaves on top.
Hoe frequently to keep the weeds from taking over. Don’t use a tiller throughout the season, or you will actually increase your weed presence. Most weeds are growing from the top ½ inch of soil. If you are constantly turning the soil to kill the growing weeds, you are actually bringing up more weed seeds. Cut them off at the soil line and mulch and you should have less weed problems.
Pay attention to water needs. Avoid getting the foliage wet if possible, and water early in the day so the plants can dry.
Most gardens were fertilized at planting, and now is the time for a supplemental side dress.
When your sweet corn begins to show silks, squirt a couple of drops of mineral oil on the silks weekly until the silks turn brown. This will keep the corn earworms away.
Watch your tomatoes for tomato fruit worms, especially as you finish corn harvest, since they are the same insect and can move from crop to crop.
To get maximum sun, plant tallest crops on the north side of the garden, so they don’t shade shorter ones, or make rows north and south. Smart gardeners locate frequently harvested crops at the edges of the garden to avoid compacting the soil by walking through the garden excessively.
Take advantage of all the space you have by utilizing vertical cropping, intercropping and succession planting. What do all those big words mean? Vertical cropping means training sprawling plants to grow up. Try it with cucumbers, squash, tomatoes and melons. Intercropping means planting quick-maturing vegetables such as lettuce and spinach between widely spaced rows of a slow-maturing crop such as tomatoes, or growing squash, pole beans or pumpkins in with corn. Succession planting means making a second planting. For example, putting beans where you’ve just harvested early spinach.
How about growing some of the new colored bell peppers or some of the other types of peppers (hot or mild) that are on the market now?
Grow some herbs in your garden space or try growing them in a container on your deck or patio. There are many types of basils to choose from –cinnamon, lemon, spicy, lime, sweet, Thai, holy and the list goes on! Sweet fennel is an easy to grow perennial herb that tastes like licorice and is reputed to be an appetite suppressant.
Don’t worry if the first flowers fall off your yellow squash plants without producing squash. These are male flowers. You can tell the difference because male flowers have a green stem whereas female flowers have a little squash at the base of the flower that develops after the flower is pollinated.