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June Vegetable Tips

The gardening season is now in full swing! I hope that you’re not like me and planting a late garden. We should be thankful for the rain we have received so far but early predictions say we should prepare for a possible dry summer. Following these tips should help your garden produce a bumper crop:

  • Mulch your garden to keep soil temperatures cooler and help hold in moisture. Be careful of your mulch source as some types of straw can possibly have residual herbicides that were applied by the producer during their growing period.
  • Cucumber has a short vine storage time; under warm, humid conditions, fruits on the vine remain in prime condition for <12 hours. For the best cukes, pick early and often. They can be stored for up to two weeks at 45-50°F and 95% relative humidity. Low temperatures cause chilling damage, and high temperatures can lead to yellowing. Yellowing is also accelerated if cucumbers are stored with tomatoes or apples.
  • Harvest vegetables such as beans, peas, squash, cucumbers and okra regularly to prolong production and for peak freshness. Taste is also improved when harvesting beans, squash and okra when less mature.
  • Harvest onions and Irish potatoes when 2/3 of tops have died down. Store potatoes in a cool, dark place and onions in a dry airy place.
  • Clean off rows of early crops as soon as they finish bearing and replant or leave them fallow until you are ready to plant fall crops.
  • Yellow crook-neck or straight-neck squash taste best when 4 to 7 inches long. Pick when pale yellow (rather than golden) and before skin hardens. Scalloped (patty pan) squash is best when grayish or greenish white (before it turns ivory white) and is still small, even silver-dollar size.
  • Plant sweet potatoes and a second planting of Southern peas, if desired
  • Keep watermelon and cantaloupe well-watered when growing, but on the dry side when fruit is ripening to prevent fruit rotting on the soil side.
  • After your vegetable garden is well established, it is best to water it thoroughly once a week rather than giving it a light watering every day. This encourages a deeper root system and helps the plants tolerate dry weather.
  • Avoid side dressing tomatoes, eggplants and peppers with fertilizer until they begin to set their first fruit.
  • In most cases, blossom-end rot on tomatoes, peppers, squash and watermelons can be prevented by maintaining uniform soil moisture by mulching and watering correctly, planting in well-drained soil and not cultivating deeper than one inch within one foot of the plant. Avoid the use of high-nitrogen fertilizers. If it develops you can treat with a foliar calcium spray.
  • Corn needs water at two crucial times: when the tassels begin to show and when the silk starts on the ear. If weather is dry at these times, water thoroughly and deeply.
  • Only the uppermost ear or two develops to maturity in sweet corn. Any underdeveloped, lower ears can be picked just after the silks appear and used in stir-fry vegetables, salads or pickles.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact Brenda Jackson at Murray County Extension at 706-695-3031 or email bljack@uga.edu

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