Gardening Tips

by Elmer Krehbiel, Master Gardener
June 21, 2002

The most important factors in gardening are species adaptability, soil condition, and planting dates.

The planting dates that I avoided last week caused some questions. Our vegetable planting dates were updated based on the average weather conditions in the Brazos Valley, the average maturity days of plants, and adaptable range for productive crops. There are exceptions to most averages.

Planting dates for gardeners that have an irrigation system and afternoon shade may be different, but the hot temperatures and wind may still cause stress.

Usually, the most valuable products are those that are mature before the average marketing season. If you can manage to start crops as early as June or January, I would say go for it.

Our information indicates that the following summer crops could be successful if planted before June 15: cucumber, eggplant, Romaine lettuce, melons, okra, southern peas, peppers, pumpkins, summer squash and winter squash.

The dates to start the early fall crops are as follows: July 1...tomatoes; July 15...sweet corn, eggplant, melons, okra, English peas, edible pod peas, Southern peas, peppers, pumpkins, summer squash and winter squash; July 20...cucumber; and August 15...beans and Irish potatoes.

The early maturity varieties should be planted in the fall garden.

Lawn Tips

There are several reasons to adjust the mower cutting height up to about three inches.

Beetles that lay eggs for grubs prefer short grass. Taller grass does not need to be mown as often as shorter grass. Taller grass conserves some moisture by shading the ground. Some weed seeds may not germinate in the shade. Finally, taller grass should be more resistant to diseases and insects.

When the soil is dry, the water should be applied slowly or several times the same day so it will soak down at least six inches. Then allow the topsoil to dry again to prevent some insect eggs from hatching and to develop a deeper root system. If you can push a rod or screwdriver into the soil, there is moisture to that depth. If the soil is dry, it will be too hard to push anything into it.

Dr. Elmer Krehbiel is the former President of Keep Brazos Beautiful. See his column in The Eagle.