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July 2018 Week 5: Singin' in the Rain

Here's hoping that the July weather ends well with lots of rain and cooler weather for everyone. So, this week's theme song for all of us is, (I write hopefully), Singin' in the Rain.

Singin' in the Rain by Gene Kelly

Hopefully by the end of the rain that is predicted to fall today and tomorrow, all of us and our gardens will be singing in the rain too.

As we enter the last week of August, most of us (depending on how far north or south we are) have 3 to 4 more months of growing season, so there's certainly a second chance with most all annual vegetables or flowers remaining before the typical November freeze brings an end to our warm-growing season. (Some cool-season crops can hang on throughout the winter, or at least much of it.)

While fall tomatoes, peppers and eggplants ought to be in the ground already so that they can be large enough to flower and fruit when the weather cools, it really is just the start of the fall planting season for most other crops. Corn should have been planted in mid-July no matter where you are in the state, and it is really is getting too late now to sow seeds of heat lovers like melons and southern peas because the temperatures begin to cool significantly in October of most years. Pretty much everything else, though, remains possible, and it still is just a touch too early to sow seeds of the real cold-weather lovers like spinach because the seeds will have a very hard time germinating in the August heat or will germinate and then melt away. It is almost time to sow seeds of leaf lettuce, though I just don't sow them that early down here because we're generally still in the 100s in late July and early August. If you haven't sown seeds of winter squash and pumpkins, or a succession planting of summer squash, there's still time if you get the seeds planted this week. Remember we cannot delay planting too long, despite the typical heat at this time of the year, because crops planted now will be dealing with autumn's shorter days and less intense sunlight which will increasingly, as each day passes, become shorter and less intense.

As a reminder, here's the OSU Fall Gardening guide. Remember that the recommended planting dates in it are the opposite of Spring planting dates, since we normally cool down first in NW OK and last in SE OK, so the earliest dates are for locations further northwest and the latest dates are for locations further southeast, and the rest of us pick a date somewhere in the middle.

Fall Gardening

Normally in late July we begin to see the populations of the worst summer pests falling: spider mites, grasshoppers, field crickets, and sometimes leaf-footed bugs and stink bugs (the later two because by now they've usually already ruined all the fruiting crops), but caterpillars often still are increasing, so watch for that sort of damage in your garden. This also is the time of year that blister beetles can show up suddenly in huge numbers and can decimate a garden, stripping plants of all foliage, in just days so watch for them. The difference between a little irritating damage and massive damage often lies in the numbers: if you see a dozen or so blister beetles in the garden, unless your garden is really small, they cannot do that much damage to it. However, if hundreds or thousands show up all at once, as sometimes happens, you must act quickly to halt them and to save your plants. Remember to avoid touching them with bare skin as they will indeed cause big blisters to pop up on your skin. It is relatively easy to vacuum them up in you have a hand vac or shop vac that can be used in the garden, or Spinosad is fairly effective, particularly on the younger ones. While in the larval stage, blister beetles devour tons of grasshopper eggs so they are beneficial at that stage, but once they reach the adult stage, they are not our friends.

Hummingbirds are gearing up for their southward migration, so be sure to keep the feeders full for them to help fuel their journey and, if you are growing flowers they love, try to keep them deadheaded and watered so they continue putting out new flowers consistently for them.

Oops. The three year old is awake and my computer time is over. Have a good day and week everyone.


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