The warm weather made us feel like it was time to plant the entire vegetable garden and some annuals. There are some crops that can be planted now, but others have to wait.
Since we need to continue to stay at home with some exceptions, there is still time to purchase seeds and plants locally. Practice social distancing when purchasing products, and don’t go to crowded places. Check with the location, including local nurseries and greenhouses, where you like to shop to ask about their operating procedures in order to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and to keep everyone involved safe and healthy. There may be on-line options for purchasing seeds and plants.
The cool-season crops can be planted now and grow best with relatively cool air temperatures (50 to 65 degrees). They produce their vegetative growth during spring’s short, cool days. If planted too late in the spring, summer heat reduces their quality by forcing some to flower and form seeds, called bolting, and others to develop off flavors, bitterness, poor texture, and low yields. Look for the lettuce varieties that say slow-bolting or heat-tolerant on the package. Remember, lettuce can also be planted in the fall.
Other cool season crops like spinach, peas, and onion sets can be planted. Also, transplant cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower into the garden. The weather will determine the amount of harvest. Radishes mature quickly, and beets will do well.
Plant spring garden crops together in order to plant fall vegetables in the same area later. When doing this, do not plant closely related vegetables in the same rows in the fall because of possible disease and insect carryover from spring crops.
The groups of closely related vegetables are: beets, Swiss chard, and spinach; cabbage, cauliflower, kale, collards, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, turnips, and mustard; peas, broad beans, snap beans, and lima beans; potatoes, eggplant, tomatoes, and peppers; and pumpkins, squash, watermelons, cucumbers, and muskmelons.
Warm-season crops are best planted after the average frost-free date of around April 20 for a summer garden. They require warm soil and air temperatures for vegetative growth and fruiting.
This later planting prevents frost injury to emerging plants and slow germination due to cool conditions. These warm-season crops would include green beans, pole beans, sweet corn, cucumber, okra, southern peas, watermelons, summer squash such as zucchini, and winter squash such as acorn squash.
Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, and melons seem to do well, depending on the weather, transplanted during the last week of April to the first week of May.
Gardening doesn’t have to end with summer‑grown crops. Vegetables for fall harvest consistent of two types: the last succession plantings of warm‑season crops, such as bush beans and summer squash, and cool‑season crops which grow well during the cool fall days and withstand frosts.
Note that cool nights slow growth, so crops take longer to mature in the fall than in the summer. Keep this slower pace in mind when checking seed catalogs for the average days to maturity. Some of the best quality vegetables are produced during fall’s warm days and cool nights. These environmental conditions add sugar to cole crops and crispness to carrots.
The following vegetables can be successfully seeded or transplanted for fall harvest: beets, bib lettuce, carrots, collards, bush green beans, leaf lettuce, mustard greens, parsnips, radishes, rutabaga, spinach, and turnips. Broccoli and cabbage transplants placed into the garden by Aug. 15 usually yield a sweet crop in the fall.
No matter when we want to plant in the ground, the soil needs to be dry enough after it rains before tilling the soil. Working wet soil can ruin the texture for several years.
The “Home Vegetable Gardening in Kentucky” publication ID_128 (https://daviess.ca.uky.edu/content/horticulture) provides the earliest and latest dates for either seeding or transplanting vegetables into the garden. For more information about vegetable gardening, contact the Daviess County Cooperative Extension Service at 270-685-8480 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Annette’s TipsThe Extension Master Gardener Hotline is open to answer your gardening questions. This hotline was developed to answer the many questions received during the gardening season with the help of trained volunteers. Please email daviess.ca.uky.edu with your questions, or call 270-685-8480 and leave a message.
The University of Kentucky is still conducting soil tests to determine levels of phosphorus and potassium and the pH of the soil. Place soil for testing in sample bags provided in a tote outside of the Daviess County Cooperative Extension Service Office, 4800A New Hartford Rd., Owensboro and complete the necessary forms. Currently, soil testing is free for your first 10 samples through a grant with the Daviess County Soil Conservation District.
We need volunteers to sew masks for the nurses and doctors at our hospital. These are the only masks accepted by the hospital and must be returned for their use only. Cut-out mask kits are available in a tote outside the office door with sewing instructions.
Looking for fun, hands-on learning to keep youth engaged? Check out the Take-and-Make Kits available to pick up at the office for 5-18 year olds. 4-H educational kits cover a variety of interest areas. Check our Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/daviesscountyextension/, to see when new kits are ready.
The University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service developed a weekly newsletter called “Healthy at Home: Navigating COVID-19 with Cooperative Extension.” It provides timely tips such as “Cleaning vs. Disinfecting” and is available at https://extension.ca.uky.edu/healthy-home-newsletter.
Annette Meyer Heisdorffer is the Daviess County extension agent for horticulture. Her column runs weekly on the Home & Garden page in Lifestyle. Email her at email@example.com.