By Brent Gray
Many gardens in Mississippi were delayed due to wet soils and cold temperatures. The cold temperatures are over, but wet soil continues as a problem. Many gardeners are wondering how their tomato plants are wilting while water surrounds them. Roots of almost all vegetables require oxygen to function absorbing water and nutrients. There is no oxygen available whenever the soil is saturated with water. The roots will die if they are deprived of air for too long. Bean plant roots will start dying in one day but most other vegetables can survive to two or three days. Try to remove standing water if it persists for more than a day.
Hot pepper fans take note. The Carolina Reaper now holds the title of the world’s hottest pepper with one pepper from one plant containing two million Scoville units. Seed are available from Ed Currie in South Carolina.
Southern peas can be planted until late July. Watch the young seedlings for thrips injury which includes mottled, puckered leaves and slow growth. Many times the damage is not severe enough to justify control. Sprays containing spinosad or insecticidal soap for organic folks or spinetoram, bifenthrin or imidichloprid (read the fine print) should be used if seedlings are dying.
We are experiencing some of the longest daylight of the year. This is a good time to observe the shade cast by trees and structures on your vegetable garden. There should be direct sun for a minimum of six hours for almost all vegetables to grow. Notice where the shade is when you wake up, when you eat lunch, and at your last meal. The garden should be in direct sun for two of those occasions for the vegetables to grow well.
Watering Made Easy
As we move into the summer months, your garden will need consistent attention to maintain its beauty and health. One of the most important elements in keeping your garden healthy under a hot sun is watering. It doesn’t have to be time-consuming, though, and can even be very easy.
One of the most efficient methods of watering is drip irrigation. This system requires the use of a soaker hose that supplies water through porous tubing by lying directly on the ground next to the plants. Since the water is delivered at very low water pressure, it’s quickly absorbed by the soil with a minimum loss to runoff or evaporation.
Soaker hoses are economical and easy to place around plants. You can secure the hoses in place by making large “hairpins” out of old wire coat hangers. Place these over the hoses and sink into the ground to secure. Then you can hide the hoses with a layer of mulch—don’t forget to leave the end of the hose visible so you can connect it to the water source. Your soaker hose will work best with the tap open only 1/4 to 1/2 a turn. Twice a year, clean your soaker hose’s pores by turning the water on full force for one minute and then off again. Repeat three times, then remove the end cap and flush the hose to remove remaining debris.