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8 tips for summer gardening

8 tips for summer gardening

Our long, wet spring seems to have given way, at last, to the typical hot, dry summer. Gardeners now face a whole new set of problems. Since we can’t change the weather, let’s try and help our gardeners make the best of it. What practical advice can we give them? Here are eight tips for summer gardening.

1. Begin by doing as much gardening work as possible when it’s cool. This means early in the morning and after the sun sets, but before dark. Occasionally a nearby thundershower will cool the temperature as much as 20 degrees for an hour or more. Take advantage of these occurrences.

2. Harvest vegetables that may wilt and hoe weeds in the morning. The vegetables will be crisp and fresh and the weeds will be killed by the heat of the day.

3. Watering is best done with a drip or trickle system so leaves will remain dry and foliage diseases will not be encouraged. Be sure to apply water until it soaks at least a foot into the soil and then wait several days until the soil surface dries an inch or so deep before watering again.

Wetting the soil to a depth of one foot will generally require one to one and one half inches of water if it is applied through an overhead system. It may be necessary to dig down and see how long it takes to wet the soil one foot deep with a drip system.

4. Evening is a good time to harvest tomatoes and peppers. They have their maximum vitamin content after a day in the sun.

5. Help plants to resist heat by reducing the stress on them. Control insects and diseases early by using recommended chemicals and cultural controls. Remove weeds with very shallow cultivation while they are small. Use mulches to retain moisture and reduce weed growth.

6. Sidedress vegetables with nitrogen according to university recommendations. These recommendations are contained in Publication 901, Growing Vegetables in Home Gardens.

7. Harvest okra, cucumbers, summer squash and green beans every other day or so. Fruit set of these vegetables will be greatly reduced by older fruit that remains on the plant.

8. Remove spent plants so they won’t continue to use nutrients and moisture or serve as hosts for insects and disease. This also will reduce overwintering of pests in the garden.

All of these tips seem to be just simple common sense. Yet gardeners tend to ignore them and retreat to the house in the heat of the summer. Just a little attention to the garden will maximize production at a minimum of discomfort and effort. Let’s encourage this minimum effort.

Contact Anthony Tuggle at atuggle@utk.edu. UT Extension provides equal opportunities in programs and employment, offering programs in agriculture and natural resources, 4-H youth development, family and consumer sciences, and resource development. Cooperation and support is provided by the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture and county governments.

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