Summer Heat – Fall Veggies To Plant!

The summer heat is back in full force with triple digits highs as we might expect for August in Oklahoma.  That means our flowers, trees, shrubs and vegetables are counting on us to assist them with needed water.  Don’t forget you can mulch your plants to reduce watering by up to half while also cooling the soil surface and plant root zone and reducing surface evaporation.

Even while we battle the heat and extreme drying of August this is the time to wrap up planting of your fall vegetable garden.  You can plant transplants of tomatoes, peppers, eggplant or tomatillo.  Plant seed or transplants now of cucumber, pumpkins, summer squash or winter squash.  You can plant seeds of bush beans, cow peas, pole beans, lima beans or cilantro.  These tender vegetables need to be planted at once in order to allow time for the crop to grow, produce their crop and harvest before the first killing freeze.  Fall vegetable gardens are often more dependable and consistent in their yield as they benefit from cooling temperatures as the crops mature.  The key is to keep the young vegetables watered and happy as they get established and battle the heat before it starts to cool down as we advance into September and October

There are also many semi hardy vegetables that you can plant throughout August that will tolerate a few light frosts and stay producing later into the fall or even early winter.  You can plant transplants of broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale or kohlrabi, green peas, radish, rutabaga, Swiss chard and turnips.  You can use seeds or plants of Chinese cabbage, collards, leaf lettuce, parsnip, leek or onions for fall gardening.  Use seed potatoes to grow a fall crop of Irish potatoes.  You can start mustard or spinach from seed and garlic from cloves or bulbs in September and early October as the temperatures cool down.

All of these fall veggies can be grown in well drained, sunny ground or flowerbeds but many of these vegetable can also be grown in decorative containers, smart pot fabric pots or raised beds.  Watering during the hot, dry start of the crop is the most important factor in success but these vegetable plants will benefit from well developed soil with lots of organic matter and some fertilizer applications to provide extra nutrition.

Many of the garden questions right now have centered around loss of leaves on trees and shrubs.  We had such a moist spring and early summer that lots of trees and shrubs produced more new growth and a great canopy of foliage that now is hard to support as we have gotten hot and very dry.  The trees and shrubs respond by dropping part of their leaves to match their ability to draw up water and nutrients to support the canopy.  Some trees are having extreme leaf loss if you have not be helping them with supplemental water and they have gone from dealing with extreme moisture to now confronting drought or extreme dryness.  The goal is to keep your plants from these wild swings and this kind of stress.  We can’t stop or protect them from the rains but we can water to supplement the missing moisture when we are so dry.

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