Although you cannot tell it by the thermometer, we should be headed forcooler weather. Sultry August weather gives way to uncertain September, which yields to milder October temperatures. This brings the question: Do I still have time to plant a late vegetable crop?
The answer is a definite “Maybe!” It depends on many factors, but we can use the best information to try to get a late crop of veggies.
August is a difficult time to get something started. If the heat does not blister it, and the drought does not kill it, then the bugs may get it. Still, many gardeners manage a crop in this weather.
As in the spring, till the soil well adding your lime and fertilizer as needed.
Though the amount of fertilizer needed varies widely, you may start with 10 pounds of 10-10-10 per 1,000 square feet.
Lightly fertilize monthly to keep vegetables growing well. If you use liquid fertilizer, follow the label directions. Some vegetables need quite a bit of extra fertilizer. These include cabbage, lettuce, onion, greens, peppers and radish.
Water is very important in this weather. Many vegetables are 90 percent water. They must have it to grow. Early on, water as needed to keep the soil moist. Some vegetables are at first watered up to several times a day. Slowly move towards watering twice a week with ¾-inch of water each time. Use a can, pie pan or rain gauge to see how long it takes your sprinkler to put out this much water. Mulch around plants to keep down weeds and conserve water. Do not allow the mulch to touch the stem of plants like tomato,pepper or eggplant. This can cause disease problems.
What can you plant?
See this quick list or call our office for a complete planting schedule. Vegetables are listed by when we should seed them into the garden:
• Before Aug. 1 (Plant these immediately and plant at your own risk) – Pole beans, lima beans and butter peas.
• Before Aug. 15 (Plant these immediately) – Bush snap beans, cucumbers, bell pepper and cauliflower.
• Before Sept. 1 - Broccoli, collards and kale.
• Before Sept. 15 - Carrots, mustard and turnip.
• Sept. 1 to Oct. 15 - Lettuce (until Oct. 1), radish, spinach and onion. These are just general guide lines. Transplants can be set out later than this. Fall gardening success can depend on when we get the first frost. We expect it around Nov. 15 and the last frost around March 15-20. These dates can vary widely. This gives us a long growing season – around 250 days.
You could have vegetables growing in the garden 12 months of the year.
With some care and good weather, you may be able to grow a few warm season vegetables now and then move to cool season vegetables after the weather cools off. For more information on vegetable gardening, call or email the Bryan County Extension Office.