Most people love to garden when the weather outside is a perfect 72 degrees with 15 percent humidity, but these next two months is the time that will set apart the hardcore gardener from the novice. Even though it is the beginning of September, there is still plenty that can be done in the vegetable garden: harvesting, planting, planning and amending soils for the late-fall and early winter growing season.
The heat and rainfall we are experiencing this time of year will cause vegetables in the garden to mature and ripen much more quickly than they would have last month. Be sure to check the garden for harvestable vegetables as often as you can; daily, if possible. If left unharvested and unchecked, you could very rapidly go from having a perfect zucchini to one that is rotting on the vine. Eggplant, okra, some tomatoes and hot pepper are but a few that can be harvested this month.
Check the vegetable garden for plants that seem to be older and worn out and replace them with fresh seeds or transplants. July is the last month for gardeners to plant okra, peanuts, luffa and sweet potato slips.
We can get a head start in the garden now by planting these vegetable seeds for transplants, which will take 4-6 weeks to grow out: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, peppers and fall tomatoes.
On the other hand, cantaloupe, cucumbers, luffa, okra, southern peas, shallots and squash transplants can be purchased and planted directly into the garden now. We have a long planting season for pumpkins. If you would like to grow your own jack-o’-lanterns for Halloween this year, be sure to get your pumpkin seed or transplants in the ground in the next week or two.
One notable insect of pumpkins, as well as squash, to watch out for this time of year is the squash vine borer. Though the name has squash in it, it can still be very destructive to your pumpkins as well. The adult moth will lay her eggs inside the stem of the pumpkin or squash vine, and the eggs will hatch into a destructive caterpillar that will eat its way through the lower vine. This will begin to cause very low vigor or even death of the plant. If you had problems with this insect last year, expect to see it again in your garden this year. Use a product containing Bt, or Bacillus thuringensis, to control the caterpillar.
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture