Now that all of the summer crops are planted let’s talk about the ongoing plant care, and management of a select few vegetables that will be taking off in the summer heat.
Tomatoes: require staking and training. Tomato stakes have to be installed about 2 inches away from each tomato plant. The tomato plants have to be tied against the stakes every 6 inches of their vertical growth. It is essential that you remove all the side shoots in the leaf axis except for the top growth point. This is the only way you can feasibly train your tomatoes along the stake, on a central leader.
Multiple shoots need to be removed otherwise each one of them would have to be tied to the same stake; this creates a thicket of vegetative growth impairing proper ventilation, and producing small tomatoes. Every week you should remove the little suckers in the leaf axes, which are the “armpits” between the main stem and each leaf. Tie the main stem to the stake using horticultural tape, zip ties or any other type of soft twine.
Zucchini: is a difficult crop to grow because of the powdery mildew pressure that can prematurely kill the plant. An easy way to control this fungal disease is to spray the plant with a mild hydrogen peroxide solution once a week. Purchase a bottle of hydrogen peroxide from the pharmacy and mix it with the same amount of water. Pour the mixture into a handheld or garden sprayer and sterilize the leaf surfaces by spraying the mixture onto the leaves; this will eradicate the powdery mildew disease. Unfortunately this also wipes the surface clean of any beneficial microbes which can open up the plant to disease. Following this antibiotic treatment, always spray some probiotic product such as kelp or liquid fish on the same plant leaves two hours after the hydrogen peroxide application, or the next day. Repeat this treatment every week starting the first week of July.
All other vegetable crops are easy to maintain. Provide sufficient water during the first 10 days of establishment, especially while spring crops might still be maturing within the same bed. In this heat, you have to water daily and try to get the water to the base of the plants, especially with cabbages which have a wide canopy of leaves.
Cabbages are ready to be picked when the top of the plant is hard like a rock, not soft like the top of babies head.
All the Kohlrabi should come out now as well as spinach and head lettuce. The beets are only just starting to size up, but they should all be harvested by July 1. Kale and collards will go through a tough time during the summer since they are cool season crops. Pick the outler leaves all the way down to the trunk, also removing any small shoots at the base to allow for maximum ventilation around the base of the plants. Never pick kale and collards down completely since a certain leaf mass is necessary to maintain photosynthesis.
Remember to cultivate and sing to your plants!
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