Thomas J. Koske | 5/27/2005 2:00:24 AM
June is either the tail of spring or the head of summer in Louisiana. It depends on whether you are near I-20 or near I-10 interstates, according to LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dr. Tom Koske.
At this time, many of the final harvests of spring vegetables are being picked and some spring rows are now bare. There are, however, things to plant and do before it gets so hot you have second thoughts about yard work.
The LSU AgCenter horticulturist says now is a good time to start late-summer tomatoes from seed. It will take about six weeks to get a good transplant, so start now. Good early fall tomato cultivars are Florida 91, Sun Chaser, Heat Wave, Sun Master, Solar Set, Sun Leaper, Equinox, BHN640, Spitfire or the cherry hybrids Sweet Chelsea, Mountain Belle and Jolly.
Collard, okra and southern peas can go in now as well as most vine crops like squash and melons. Choose sweet banana pepper types or cubanelle types for summer pepper production, since the bell types don’t produce as well in high heat.
If you want a big pumpkin for Halloween, plant the seed in June. Choose a large-fruited cultivar like Big Max, Atlantic Giant, Big Moon and Prize Winner. Protect the vines and foliage from insects and diseases. Keep weeds from shading the vines. Pinch off all extra fruit from a vine other than the one or two perfect pumpkins you wish to grow out.
Many crops will be coming in strong now. When onions and garlic show graying and off color, it’s time to harvest the bulbs. Don’t always harvest based on size; the heat of summer often causes many fruit to mature in a smaller size.
Organic mulching is a key to good hot-season vegetable production. The mulches hold down weeds and conserve moisture, but also keep the root zone soil cooler.
Koske notes that early summer is often a good time to clean up the garden. Pull out non-productive old plants. Chop, till or spray-out weeds before they take over or drop much fresh seed. If nutsedge infestation is bad, you can spray a glyphosate herbicide on infested areas of the spent garden that can be left fallow for several weeks.
To enable a good herbicide uptake through the active foliage, do not disturb the weeds before spraying. Cultivate fallow areas well before replanting.
For related topics, look for Gardening and Get It Growing links at the LSU AgCenter Web site, www.lsuagcenter.com. Additional yard and garden topics are available from an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office.