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It’s the middle of the summer growing season — how’s your garden doing?

In the Garden

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Lance Ellis,

It is always a little surprising how quickly summer goes by, and next thing you know we are having county fairs. Between the high temperatures of late and outdoor recreation being in full swing, – summer is flying by.

At this point in the season, it is mostly too late to try and plant crops as they will not have enough time to mature their produce before the frost comes and ends our growing season. But, there are a select few “quick growing” crops you can still plant for a harvest this season such as lettuce, swiss chard, and spinach. These crops can mature to harvestable size sooner than others, but you will want to plant them in the cooler portion of your garden, as they do not tolerate high temperatures very well.

At this time of year most gardeners have their vegetables established and some are already done and harvested.

For the crops you are still growing such as squash, corn, potatoes, and others; you need to continue monitoring soil moisture to make sure it is adequate and not getting dried out too much. Heat stress can really affect your plants negatively if they do not have enough soil moisture. Weeds at this point in the season can overtake your garden and dramatically decrease production if not removed. (This is generally the time when people also lose interest in trying to work in their gardens, since the weeds get the best of them and its hot outside.)

Lance Ellis,

Most crops should not need any fertilizer at this point in the season, except for corn, and only if it is still under two feet tall, and showing a need for fertilizer. Signs your corn may need fertilizer can include the plants having a pale yellow color, poor growth, and premature development of poor quality ears of corn.

Concerning your lawn, do not apply herbicides such as 2-4D or other broadleaf herbicides at this time of year as they can volatize in the high temperatures and damage other plants in your yard or in the neighbor’s yard. It is better to control broadleaf weeds such as dandelions early in the spring or wait till Fall so that the risk of chemicals volatizing is decreased. Volatizing of these broadleaf herbicides means that some of the chemical becomes a vapor and goes up into the air, and can travel with either heat waves rising up from the ground or on breeze.

Susceptible plants may then get a small, yet lethal or at least somewhat damaging dose of this chemical when this occurs. At this point in the summer it is tough to keep enough water on your lawn, as it loses a great deal of moisture during the day through evaporation.

Lance Ellis,

Although it is hard to keep the lawn green or alive right now, it will pay off later. It is during this time of heat stress that the grass can become thin or die back and allow space for weed seeds to start to spout and get rooted in and then take over. To best utilize the water you are irrigating with, set your timer to irrigate the lawn during the morning hours of 4:00 AM to 7:00 AM, or if you are pulling hoses try to water in the earliest part of the day.

Applying fertilizers right now can cause damage to your lawn as the grass may not keep up with water loss and extra growth at the same time, and fertilizer burning may result. Apply fertilizers when temperatures have dropped and are cooling down. Lastly avoid transplanting or propagating new plants from starts at this time of year since the shock of transplanting coupled with the high heat will generally set the plants back for weeks or even cause them to die. Good luck with your yards and gardens.

For further gardening questions please contact Lance at (208) 624-3102.