Veggies Picked, Packaged, Pickled And Put Away
By Steve Cummings
While parts of the county got some rain last weekend, most of the county could still use a good soaking rain. It barely sprinkled at my house, so the grass is drying up and the plants in the flower beds are wilted. Some crops are noticeably wilted and pastures have stopped growing. Yes, we need a rain and hopefully by the time you read this, we will have gotten one.
This week our 4-Hers are participating in the State 4-H Horse Show. Non-riding events are on Wednesday and Thursday. Riding events conclude on Sunday, July 13th. Yalobusha County qualified in 66 riding events. If you are in the Jackson area, come by the Fordice Equine Center and support our young people.
July is harvest time in the vegetable garden and most of our attention is focused on getting everything picked, packaged, pickled and put away. Those of us with drip irrigation appreciate the ability to irrigate and harvest at the same time. Those of us who sprinkle or flood should pick in the morning and water in the afternoon. Evenings are a good time to write notes and plan for tomorrow’s tasks. One of those tasks is how to keep weeds from growing after harvest is done. One way is to plant a hot weather crop after the spring one is done. Hot weather options include okra, eggplant, hot peppers, cherry and grape tomatoes, Malabar and New Zealand spinach, and Southern peas. If you don’t need any more to eat from the garden, a cover crop of Southern peas fixes enough nitrogen for a fall crop of greens or cabbage. Summer cover crop includes sorghum-sudan grass and sunhemp. Both of these crops produce a lot of green material that can be plowed into the soil to improve structure. A colorful alternative is to plant sunflowers. These will attract birds, however, so don’t use them if you have late maturing fruit near the vegetable garden. Whatever you do, it is better to have something growing in the garden that you want rather than allowing weeds to get established.
Pumpkins should be planted by now. Observe the seedlings for cutworm damage and treat if you see stems sticking out of the ground with no leaves. Remember how easily pumpkin leaves develop foliar diseases and keep a preventative fungicide applied.
Commercial corn fields are starting to mature. This means all the insects that would normally be feeding on those plants are looking for a new feed source. Be vigilant, watch for insect infestations and treat promptly.