Summer Chores for the Vegetable Garden
Well, the garden is well on its way! You’ve got most everything planted and the harvest is coming in. So, what now? Just go to the beach and come back and harvest? That’s hardly a good strategy. Gardens need constant attention. So here’s some of the things you should be doing now while you are harvesting and possibly planning some fall planting.
Weeds – The infernal weed is the bane of most gardeners. Try to maintain the garden as weed free as possible. Weeds compete with garden plants for water and nutrients. Also, removing weeds before they can produce seed can help reduce the weed load for next season. Continue to keep weeds under control and especially problem weeds such as nut sedge.
Fertilizer – A lot of crops need additional fertilizer as they begin to produce fruit. This is the time for heaviest demand of nutrients. If you have had a lot of rain up until now, chances are the fertilizer you put out at planting is already gone. Supplement heavy feeders such as tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and leafy vegetables with a small amount of additional fertilizer. A good rule of thumb is to add about 1.5 pounds of 10-10-10 per 100 square feet for these crops.
Sweet corn and vining crops (squash, cucumbers, melons, etc) won’t need quite as much supplemental fertilizer. About 3/4 pound per 100 square feet is enough for them. This is assuming you have provided a sufficient amount of fertilizer at or just after planting.
Blossom End Rot – Tomatoes, pepper and eggplant as well as to some degree squash, cucumbers and melons can be afflicted with this condition which is a brown leathery spot on the blossom end. The fruit will eventually rot. This is a lack of calcium in the fruit. The best defense is to maintain a steady water supply – not too wet, not too dry – and to add some calcium. Calcium can be added alongside the plants or with foliar sprays.
Insects – These can be problematic from time to time on most all of your vegetable crops. Keep these under control as best you can. If you’re not growing organically, there are several insecticides available that do a good job. If you’re growing organically, there are fewer options but some are quite effective.
Diseases – Again, a problem in some circumstances. There are non-organic options of fungicidal sprays that are effective. Unfortunately, organic options are less effective but there are some possibilities that will help to some degree.
Irrigation – The summer weather is always unpredictable. In the western North Carolina area we can be in a drought on one side of the mountain and flooded on the other side. Summer storms can end drought conditions quickly. However, don’t let the garden get too dry. A good watering once a week is better than frequent watering that is less extensive.
Planning for the fall – It will soon be time to start plants for fall plantings. Crops like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels Sprouts, Kale, Collards, Turnips, English Peas, other green peas, radish, beets, etc. are all good crops for the fall garden. Many of these plants can be grown as transplants and planted into the garden later and some are best direct seeded. Either way, it’s time to start planning for what you may want to plant in the fall.
Sanitation – Be sure to clean up old plant debris as you complete harvest of crops. You can compost this debris but remove it from the garden to keep down disease and insect populations.
Keep up the good work. Get ready to start freezing and canning and keep that garden looking sharp.