Summer Gardening Tips

Melissa Cater  |  7/31/2010 12:48:47 AM

picture of vegetables

For you summer garden enthusiasts, here's a list of vegetables to plant during the summer and some crop highlights to keep you busy during the hot months ahead!

Vegetables to plant:

: Transplant tomatoes and bell peppers in mid-July for fall production. Also one can plant okra, southern peas, cucumbers, squash, cantaloupes, pumpkins and watermelons.

Mid- to late July: Seed broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, cabbage, collards and winter squash; transplant bell peppers and tomatoes.

Crop Highlights:

Broccoli and cauliflower: Both can be direct-seeded beginning in mid-July through September or transplanted from early August through early September. It takes four to six weeks to produce transplants from seed. In general, broccoli and cauliflower will require 5 to 6 pounds (or pints) of a complete fertilizer such as 8-24-24 per 100 feet of row. These crops, especially cauliflower, require fast, continuous growth for proper head development. Keep them well watered and fertilized. Side-dress plants with ¾ pound (1 ½ cups) of ammonium nitrate per 100 feet of row three to four weeks after transplanting and again 14 days after that. Varieties that will produce in about 60 days from transplanting reduce the chance of cold-weather damage. Recommended varieties for Broccoli are: Arcadia, Gypsy, Everest, Diplomat, Greenbelt, Patron, Triathalon, Windsor, Premium Crop, Packman, and Green Comet. Recommended varieties for Cauliflower are: Majestic, Wentworth, Candid Charm, Cumberland, Incline, Snow Crown, Freedom and Symphony.

Snap beans: Late August through early September is the best time to plant. Normally 50 to 55 days are required from planting until harvest. Don’t let beans suffer from drought. Choose Provider, Bluelake 274, Roma II, Derby, Ambra, Magnum, Valentino, Festina, Bronco, Royal Burgundy, Green Crop, Hialeah, Strike, Caprice, Greenable, Lynx, Nash and Shade. For a yellow wax bean, choose Golden Rod Wax. Bush beans usually will produce more successfully than pole beans in the fall because of their earlier maturity.

Butter beans: This crop is harder to produce in the fall than are snap beans. Plant early enough to produce before frost and late enough so they’re not blooming while temperatures are too high for fruit set. Plant in early August through about mid-August. Plant bush beans for fall production such as Henderson, Fordhook 242, Thorogreen, Jackson Wonder or Dixie Butterpea.

Irish potatoes: Plant small whole potatoes saved from the spring crop from about mid-August to early September. Good soil moisture is essential. The seed potatoes may not sprout readily after planting because of a physiological rest period of about 90 days that they have to go through after harvesting in the spring. After this rest period is satisfied, the tubers should sprout. Fall yields are lower than spring yields. Use small potatoes for seed pieces, not market tubers.

Cabbage: Plant seed beginning in mid-July through September. You also may transplant beginning in early August through mid-October. Fertilize the same as broccoli and cauliflower. Space cabbage, cauliflower and Chinese cabbage about 12 to 14 inches apart and broccoli six to 12 inches apart. Double drills (two drills of plants spaced ten to twelve inches apart on a single row) will help maximize yield. Try Rio Verde for late plantings. Recommended early maturity varieties include Platinum, Dynasty, Gold Dynasty and Stonehead (AAS). Maturing a little later are Rio Verde, Solid Blue 780, Red Dynasty, Emblem, Blue Dynasty, Thunderhead Royal Vantage, Silver Dynasty, Blue Thunder, Cheers, Vantage Point, Savoy Ace (AAS) and Savoy King (AAS).

Squash and cucumbers: These two crops can be planted in June, July and August. Summer plantings normally will be ready to begin harvesting after about six weeks. Yields usually are lower than spring plantings. A fall crop of yellow summer squash, zucchini and cucumbers can be grown by planting seed in August. Squash vine borers may be a more severe problem in fall than in spring so be prepared to control them with an insecticide. Viruses are a problem in the fall. New cucumbers are Daytona and Stonewall. New squash are Medallion, Fortune, Lioness, Justice, Lynx and Leopard.

Pumpkins: Pumpkins for Halloween should be planted in early to mid-July. Apply 3-5 pounds of a complete fertilizer for each 100 feet of row before planting. Plant five to six seed in hills about four to five feet apart on rows six to eight feet apart. Thin to one or two plants per hill. Apply a side-dressing of one pound one pint) of ammonium nitrate per 100 feet of row when vines begin to run. Keep soil moist for best production. Howden and Biggie are excellent varieties to grow for Halloween. The Connecticut Field is an old, popular variety. Recommended varieties of giant pumpkins are Big Moon, Full Moon, Big Max, Atlantic Giant and Prize Winner. The medium size varieties that have done well in research trials are Spirit, Lumina, Big Autumn, Gold Rush, Autumn Gold, Gold Bullion, Howdy Doody, Dependable, Gold Medal, Merlin and Sorcerer. Frosty, Big Autumn, Neon, Magic Lantern and Aspen produce a dwarf vine that should be tried in home gardens. Many ornamental pumpkins like Jack-Be-Little, Baby Bear, Munchkin and Lil Ironsides can be planted.

Greens: Begin planting greens - mustards, turnips and collards – during August. Keep the soil moist to ensure a good stand. Try some of the white turnips like White Lady and Tokyo Cross for roots and Seven Top, AllTop, Topper and Southern Green for greens. Also good are Just Right, Royal Crown, Purple Top WG and Red Giant.

Shallots: Dry sets of shallots can be planted from August to April. About 50 to 60 days from planting, tops will be ready to harvest.

Fall bell peppers: If plants from the spring are still in good condition, they can be nursed - sprayed or dusted and watered - throughout summer. They will set fruit again as the temperatures become more favorable. If seeds of bell peppers haven’t been planted by early June, buy transplants.

Fall tomatoes: Transplant fall tomatoes in July. Be prepared to spray with insecticides and fungicides. Insect and disease pressure usually is worse in the fall than in the spring. The heat-set varieties that have produced well in recent trials are Sun Leaper, Florida 91, Sun Master, Solar Fire, Sun Chaser, Phoenix, Solar Set and Heat Wave II. These varieties have the ability to set some fruit in high temperatures, allowing the fruit to mature before cool weather. Row covers, which protect the plants from the first frost, have prolonged the harvest period, and they enhance fruit maturity. Also worth trying in fall is BHN 216. Since fall tomatoes are a crop you can’t really be sure of, it’s interesting to try several early varieties. Certain varieties may produce better in some parts of the state than others because of the variation in climate and soils. Start early and get a strong bush.

Lettuce: Head lettuce can be grown in Louisiana in late August. A common mistake is planting the seed too deep. Lettuce seed require light for germination, so scatter the seed on the row and lightly rake it into the soil. Plant leaf lettuce in September. Keep the soil moist until the seeds have germinated and are well established. Head types are tougher to grow. Keep lettuces growing actively to keep it from becoming bitter. Recommended varieties of head lettuce are Summertime, Mighty Joe, Ithaca, Mavrick and Great Lakes 659. For leaf lettuce, try Slobolt, Red Salad Bowl, Grand Rapids, Red Fire, Tango, Red Sails, Salad Bowl, Sunset, Simpson or Elite. The recommended romaine lettuce varieties are Parris Island, Ideal, Green Forest and Green Towers. For butterhead or bibb lettuce: Buttercrunch, Ermosa, Esmerelda, Nancy or Oak Leaf. And for batavia types (leaf lettuce with a unique flavor): Nevada or Sierra.

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