(News article for July 3, 2020)
By this time of year, some people are probably past their initial spring vegetable gardening enthusiasm.
While it’s not the time to plant certain cool-season vegetables like lettuce and English peas, and we’re in the gap between spring and fall planting dates for snap beans, which don’t set fruit well in hot weather, there are still quite a few vegetables that can be planted now and in the coming weeks.
Some of the first vegetables that come to mind are okra and southern peas (black-eyed, crowder, purple hull peas, and cream peas). These Louisiana staples can be planted continuously from late March or April till early August.
Pumpkins can be planted through the end of July, but if you want them to be ready by the end of October, plant them early in the month. Cantaloupes can be planted through the beginning of August. Summer squashes and cucumbers mature more quickly than pumpkins and melons and can be planted until mid-September.
Tomatoes can be planted till early August. When planting tomatoes after the beginning of May, though, it’s advised that you choose heat-set varieties such as Florida 91, Phoenix, or Solar Fire.
After a taking break from mid-May to mid-June, bell pepper planting can resume and, as with tomatoes, continue until early August.
Eggplants are more heat-tolerant than bell peppers when it comes to pollination, so a late-spring-to-early-summer break in planting is not necessary. At the same time, they’re more cold sensitive and generally take longer to produce fruit. Planting eggplants by mid-July rather than mid-August may allow for a longer harvest period, since they’ll have more time to bear fruit before the first frost.
While summer just recently began, it won’t be long until we can plant a number of our cool-season crops. Turnip, collard, kale, and mustard greens can be planted beginning in mid-July, although you may find that they have a bitter taste until the weather cools off some.
Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and shallot transplants can be planted beginning in August. In mid-August, we can start planting beet seeds. There is even a window from August till mid-September for planting a fall crop of Irish potatoes.
Low and high temperatures are generally what restrict vegetable planting dates. However, insect pests and diseases are considerations, too. Pest and disease pressure will generally be greater in summer- and fall-planted crops, since the insect and pathogen populations have had time to build up over the course of the growing season. Be aware of this if you do decide to plant any of the above-mentioned vegetables in the summer or fall.
Based solely on temperature considerations, a summer planting of sweet corn can be made. However, people are cautioned against doing this because of the amount of insect pressure that is expected.
Let me know if you have questions.
Contact Mary Helen Ferguson.
Cantaloupes can be planted through the beginning of August in southern Louisiana. (Photo by S. Bauer, USDA Agricultural Research Service)