Vegetable Garden Update

Home Grown  by Keith Reed
Well, one thing is for certain, drought discussion is off the table for a while! Of course, it is no surprise to you long time gardeners that the much needed rainfall doesn’t eliminate garden problems and issues, it just changes them. Here are some things to keep an eye on as we work through this cool, wet spell.

After an unseasonably warm start, soil temperatures have flattened out and are now cooler than average. This means the growth on warm season crops like tomatoes, peppers, corn, green beans, etc. is going to be very slow for a while. Avoid the temptation to fertilize in hopes of “jump starting” them. Growth will resume when the temperatures come back up.

If you have already mulched, pulling it back from the plants a few inches can help warm the soil a bit. This can also be helpful for plants that are yellowed from being in waterlogged soil for several days. Most plants can withstand some yellowing (or light green), but if the discoloration is severe, the plant will be better off if the leaves are removed completely. This is especially true of the lower leaves on tomato plants as this is a major disease entry point as soil splashes up onto the leaves.

If you are still waiting anxiously for some seedlings to germinate, check your planting date and expected days of germination. If it’s past time by more than a few days, it would be a good idea to dig a few seeds up and see what they look like. If they are dark and mushy, they’ve rotted and you will need to replant.

The same weather that adversely affects the warm season crops above can have a positive effect on cool season crops, especially greens. If you’ve already given up on a bed of lettuce or spinach for the season, you might try a hard cut-back and see what happens. If it stays cool, they may rebound nicely. Who knows how the next month or so of weather will play out, but it might also be worth trying one more round of planting on these crops.

For more information of this or any other horticultural topic, you can contact Keith Reed, the Horticulturist in the Payne County Extension office. Keith can be reached via email at keith.reed@okstate.edu, phone at 405-747-8320, or in person at the Payne County Extension office, located at 315 W. 6th in Stillwater.
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