It is now officially summer and most of us are taking an enforced rest from growing vegetables but we cannot avoid having to mow the grass on a regular basis. Today’s gasoline does not like to be stored for long so if you use a 5-gallon container to serve your mowing needs for a few months you may consider adding a gasoline stabilizer. I get mine from Quality Star Auto Parts in Marsh Harbour.
This is pineapple season. Home grown pineapples are much sweeter than store bought and if you wish to grow your own you need to get under way soon. Every pineapple plant produces a single fruit but several sets, slips and ratoons to propagate new plants. If you know somebody who is growing pineapples now I feel sure you will be able to get some starters from them.
Root your slips in small pots or open bin and keep them in partial shade until October. They can then be transferred to 3-gallon containers with good quality potting mix and grown in full sun or partial shade. Use Osmocote in your soil and Miracid as a weekly spray. Fruit production takes about a year. That is a long time but pineapples pretty well look after themselves once they are fed and watered.
Strawberry plants of the Everbearing type will be very low on fruit production at this time of year but will be sending out runners with new plants. Anchor these in 3-inch pots and allow them to root well (a month to 6 weeks) before cutting free and potting in a 1-gallon container.
The problem with perennial strawberries is keeping them safe and healthy through our hot and humid summer. Give them some shade and water very regularly. When cooler conditions come along in late October you can transfer your strawberry plants to larger containers and start feeding them for the winter crop. Like pineapples, strawberries love acid soil so use Miracid as your main fertilizer.
Crops that can be grown with some success at this time are snake beans, cow peas, black-eye peas, lima beans, watermelons, cucumbers, eggplants, collards and okra. Okra comes in bush and tall varieties. Use bush if you want quick returns but sow a tall crop if you want heavy production over a lengthy period.
Annuals that can take summer heat include tithonia (Mexican sunflower), vinca, cosmos, zinnias and marigolds. Gaillardia is a perennial but flowers in its first year. A mass planting of gaillardias is very attractive and, once planted, returns every year. Gaillardia can take the hottest conditions in stride and needs very little care.
Peppers, both sweet and hot, can produce for several years if tended well. Older plants are not as attractive as young ones but it is pointless to pull them up while they are productive. Also, peppers in general do not attract nematodes. They do attract whiteflies so spray them regularly with soap solution.
If you have peppers in 3-gallon containers you can move them to where they receive a degree of shade in the midday and early afternoon as the fruits are easily scorched by direct sunlight. You can also plant seeds and Cubanelle is a wonderful sweet pepper to grow in warm weather. Bird pepper trees grow much larger than most peppers and will need a 5-gallon or bigger pot. Even better, plant them in full sun in good soil as the small fruits are less affected by sun scorch.
If you are not growing vegetables right now try covering your garden with clear plastic sheeting. Keep the soil wet by folding back the sheeting and watering every week. This will keep weeds from growing and also help to reduce nematodes infestations.