By June, many of the final harvests of spring vegetables are under way, and some spring rows are bare from earlier picking. This month, however, still offers opportunities before summer gets so hot you have second thoughts about yard work, according to LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dr. Tom Koske.
Now is a good time to transplant heat-set tomatoes. Varieties include Sunmaster, Heat Wave II, Bella Rose, Sun Chaser, Sun Leaper, Equinox and Florida 91. Plant them 1-2 inches deeper than normal for better moisture access, Koske advises.
For fall tomatoes, it's now time to plant seed. Try the heat-setting types, or select BHN 216, Florida 91, Phoenix, Spitfire, Carnival or Solar Set. Choose a nematode-resistant variety if these pests were in your garden. Koske recommends planting now because it takes about six weeks to get a good transplant.
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 Autumn, Aspen, Cinderella, Appalachian, Merlin, ProGold 510 or Sorceror. 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 nonproductive 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.
Do not disturb the weeds before spraying to enable a good herbicide uptake through the active foliage. Cultivate these fallow areas well before replanting.
For related gardening topics, look for Home Gardening and Get It Growing links at the LSU AgCenter Lawn and Garden Web site: www.lsuagcenter.com. Additional yard and garden topics are available from an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office.