Monday, July 6, 2015

Time to Re-Plant

Early July is a good time to replant certain crops for a late harvest. Among the choices are beans, beets, carrots, cucumbers, squash, tomatoes, peppers, parsley, basil, and scallions.

Most bush bean varieties mature quickly, allowing you to plant them in succession all summer long. Unfortunately, when we have a spate of temperatures above 90, as we did in June, beans suffer from heat stress. It appears that temperatures will be more moderate for the next few weeks, which bodes well for late crops of beans.

Beets and carrots perform best in cool weather, but will nevertheless germinate and produce a crop in about 60 to 70 days, or early September if planted now. You can expect smaller roots, but more intense flavor, in summer-grown beets and carrots.

Cucumbers mature in about 60 days, and will appreciate the cooler night temperatures that will be arriving in late August. High heat stresses cucumbers and may interfere with proper pollination, resulting in deformed fruits. Later crops will not have this problem.

Late plantings of summer squash are less likely to be attacked by the squash borer, although it is wise to keep them covered until flowers appear. Squash borer populations are at a low ebb this time of year, so there are simply fewer females out flying around looking for plants on which to lay their eggs.

Tomato and pepper plants will respond quickly when transplanted into warm soil. Some garden centers will have plants ready for this time of year. If you cannot find pepper plants, there is not a lot you can do, as it is too late to start them from seeds. In the case of tomatoes, however, you can remove suckers that naturally form on your earlier plants. Remove all but the top two tiers of leaves from each sucker and drop the stems in a glass of water. They should root before the end of the month and can be transplanted as soon as the roots are two inches long. Keep them well watered until new growth is obvious, feed with a balanced fertilizer, and expect tomatoes right up until the first frost. You can hasten rooting of the cuttings by placing some willow cuttings in the water with the tomatoes. Cut six to eight inches from the tip of a willow branch and remove most of the leaves. In a glass of water, the willow will root with remarkable speed. As it does so, it releases plant hormones into the water that will encourage rooting by other cuttings.

Parsley, basil and scallions can all be direct seeded now. Barely cover the seeds with fine soil and keep them watered if rain does not arrive. Thin them as soon as true leaves have appeared, or when scallions are two to three inches tall. It won't take them long to get big enough to harvest. You can also root cuttings from established basil plants, following the instructions for tomatoes.

Keep garden fresh produce coming all season long by re-planting now.

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