University of Vermont Extension
Department of Plant and Soil Science
SUMMER TIPS FOR THE VEGETABLE GARDEN
Charlie Nardozzi, Senior Horticulturist
National Gardening Association
pest control, and proper harvest are some of the tips for this season’s
evidence that fruiting of tomatoes and peppers is improved by applying Epsom
salts, which contains sulfur and
magnesium. Apply one tablespoon of granules around each transplant, or spray a
solution of one tablespoon Epsom salts per gallon of water at transplanting,
first flowering, and fruit set. You can find it at drug and grocery stores.
the weeds in walkways in your garden by covering the soil with some type of
mulch. Some people like to use carpet scraps placed upside-down. Several sheets
newspaper topped with hay or straw works
very well, especially if you move your planting areas around a bit from year to
year. Landscape fabric topped with wood chips or gravel is a good choice if the
walkways are permanent. Try to avoid the habit of tilling to remove weeds
because the process brings up weed seeds from deeper in the soil and exposes
them to the light they need to grow.
tomato plants, such as 'Better Boy', will produce many suckers. A sucker is a new shoot that starts where a branch
connects with the main trunk. Removing suckers will decrease the number of fruits produced,
but the remaining tomatoes will be larger and will ripen sooner.
your tomato supports in place before plants get too large. Smaller determinate
varieties can be supported with small
cages, but larger indeterminate (vining) varieties need large cages or tall
stakes. Secure cages with stakes so they don't topple.
end rot shows up as dark sunken spots on the blossom, or non-stem, end of tomatoes, peppers, and squash. It's
caused by a calcium imbalance in the plant.
The soil may have adequate calcium, but the plant isn't able to take up
enough to supply the rapidly developing fruit. To minimize the problem, keep
soil evenly moist, apply a layer of mulch to conserve moisture, don't
over-fertilize (especially avoid high-nitrogen fertilizer), and avoid damaging
plant roots while cultivating.
grounds, diatomaceous earth, and even sharp gravel can deter slugs and snails.
Spread any of these materials in a ring
around individual plants. Wrap pots with copper tape to keep slugs from
crawling up. Inspect foliage and squish or pick off any insects that have
already passed the barriers.
cucumber, melon, and squash plants are easy prey for cucumber beetles. As the seedlings grow, these yellow-striped or
spotted beetles emerge to feed on their foliage. The beetles also spread
bacterial wilt disease. To control them in a small planting, suck them up with
a portable vacuum cleaner or spray beneficial nematodes on the soil.
not too late to sow lettuce, beets, carrots, radishes, and other short-season
crops for a late-summer harvest. Shade lettuce,
if possible, during late afternoon to keep young plants cooler, or grow them next to larger
plants that provide some shade. You'll need to water more often on these hot
days than you did in spring and early summer. Mulch between rows to preserve
moisture and block weed growth.
tomatoes, zucchini, beans, and other fruiting crops frequently to encourage continued production. Remove any fruits that
have gone by unless you're in competition for the biggest zucchini! You don't
want the plant to produce mature seeds because that will signal that it's time
to slow down fruit production.
are best harvested just as they are beginning to flower. That's when they have
the highest concentration of essential oils
-- and flavor -- in their leaves. Harvest entire branches back to within a few
inches of the main stem to encourage new, bushy growth.
harvesting onions when about half to three quarters of the leaves have died
back. Then gently dig or pull the onions and
store them in a dry, shady place with good ventilation, such as an outdoor shed
or barn, for 10 days to two weeks. After the onions have cured, put them in
slatted crates or mesh bags and store them over winter indoors in a cellar with
low humidity and temperatures between 33 and 45 degrees F.
the daytime temperatures no longer rise above 65 degrees F in late summer and
early fall, it's time to pick the green tomatoes. Wrap them individually in
newspaper and let them ripen indoors, or try some fried.
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