Row by Row Episode 54: Productive Crops for the Summer Garden

Improving Your Summer Garden

Not sure what to plant in the summer garden? Instead of allowing the vegetable garden to become covered with grass and weeds, grow heat-loving summer crops and keep the garden healthy for fall plantings. A summer garden is a great way to include succession planting and crop rotation. A solid crop rotation will help to promote soil health, plant health and reduce insect/disease pressure.

Succession Planting & Crop Rotation

During the fall and winter seasons, crops like lettuce, beets, and brassicas such as kohlrabi or bok choi are excellent for crop rotations because they all have similar dates to maturity. This is a great three crop rotation for the fall, winter and spring garden. This rotation will provide plenty of food in the cooler months if succession planted properly. To have successful cool weather crop rotations, you should consider choosing crops that require the same amount of time to grow. Succession planting in late spring and early summer is a great way to extend the harvest into the warmer months. We suggest succession planting squash, cucumbers and okra to get multiple crops within a given spring/summer period. We usually plant okra three to four times from spring through fall. This will ensure that we always have productive plants in the garden. As older plants become taller and produce less, we will always have younger plants that are starting to heavily produce.

Sweet potatoes are also a great heat-loving summer crop that can be used to follow several other warm-season crops. We like to plant sweet potatoes behind our Irish potatoes or onions. Because they’re in different families, we can follow either of those crops with sweet potatoes in late spring/early summer. We usually plant sweet potatoes in late May to early June, but they may be planted as late as August in warmer climates. We plant slips from Steele Plant Company in Gleason, TN. Warm-weather cover crops are another great option for summer plantings. These would include buckwheat, sorghum sudangrass, sunn hemp and brown top millet.

Steele Plant Company: https://www.sweetpotatoplant.com/

Show and Tell Segment

On the show and tell segment, Travis brought some Sunburst patty pan squash and explains his preferred method of preparing and cooking them. This is Greg’s first year growing Rattlesnake pole beans and he has been surprised by the shape of the beans. They are not as flat as he thought they would be. For an heirloom variety, they are very productive and easy to grow. It has been a month since Travis has transplanted his peppers and they are not doing good. To fix resolve that issue, he decided to put some Epsom salt, some Gypsum to prevent blossom end rot and soil drench with Micro-Boost. After adding those elements to the peppers they are doing great now. Greg’s Honey Select corn is almost ready to harvest, while Travis’ Incredible Sweet Corn is growing fast but not quite ready to harvest.

Viewer Questions Segment

On the question and answer segment, the guys answer questions about injecting micronutrients and spraying tomatoes for pests. Travis uses the Micro-Boost in his EZ-FLO Fertilizer Injector. The recommended rate is 1/4 cup per thousand square feet. For his garden, he adds two cups to the 2 gallon injector per injection. The Micro-Boost supplement may be mixed with any other fertilizer like 20-20-20, Chilean Nitrate or Liquid-Fish. Greg mentions that he does not spray his tomato plants while growing them in the greenhouse. But he does begin a spray program as soon as he transplants them into the vegetable garden. As soon as those transplants make contact with outside, non-sterile soil, it is a good idea to start a pest control program.

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