We are right in the middle of the dog days of summer which the hot and dry conditions of late reflect. This is a tricky time for Central Texas vegetable farmers because early fall crops such as tomatoes and winter squash must be planted now in order to produce before first frost, but the 100+ degree days are really hard on young plants so it can be a real challenge to keep these crops healthy until the weather moderates sometime in September. Providing shade during the hottest part of the day using hoop structures is a good solution, however, we just completed our new ‘one west’ field and have not had time to build hoop structures so we will be using mulch to try to keep the roots cool and damp.
The tomatoes are looking quite good considering how hot and windy it has been since we planted them a couple of weeks ago. Some of them are even starting to bloom already, but until the temp falls a bit they won’t set any fruit. We chose better boy, early girl, early roma, and peacevine cherry tomato varieties this fall.
The squash and pumpkins are hanging in pretty well, but I can’t say that they are thriving yet. We have a nice variety of squash this fall including acorn, butternut, buttercup green, honey bear and bush scallop white, and we have howden and small sugar pumpkins.
The spring/summer cucumber crop has been pulled out and a new fall crop has been planted. We have these guys shaded and they are looking great. If all goes well they should be producing in a couple of weeks. I hope they do better than the early crop did, I would really like to put up some pickles for the winter this year.
I seeded some swiss chard and basil in the greenhouse several weeks ago just to see how it would do in the heat of the summer and much to my surprise they are doing fantastically. I have so much basil I can’t use it all, and we are eating swiss chard at least once a week now. And since those crops are doing so well I was inspired to plant more chard and kale transplants in the greenhouse as well. So far all of these plants are doing well, especially considering that it gets really hot in the greenhouse in the afternoons.
In the next few weeks we will be pulling out the remainder of our summer crops, except the peppers and herbs, and recharging and amending the beds in preparation for our cool weather fall crops. Early in September we will be planting arugula, beets, broccoli, brussels sprouts, red and green cabbage, cauliflower, collards, kale, leeks, lettuce and a variety of Asian greens.
For now though, I think I’ll just grab a big glass of iced tea and sit back and watch the Olympics.