The Norman Transcript


July 12, 2013

Crops need shade because of warm spring



If you transplanted your tomato plants late, as I did, we might give up on gathering many vine-ripe tomatoes until September. In the meantime, it is necessary to keep the vines healthy until nighttime temperatures range between 75 and 80, otherwise the blooms will not set fruit.

Example: I have six very healthy tomato vines, but only one plant has a couple of small tomatoes. However, I hope for a good late fall crop.

Late August is a good time to plant legumes such as black-eyed peas, field peas and Crowder peas to enrich any vacant areas of the garden, or yard, for that matter.

You may need to water them for them to sprout because the soil is so dry; then lay multiple layers of wet newspaper on the crop weighted down in strategic places with rocks to keep them in place. Water the newspapers as soon as they become dry.

Even better, place dry leaves on top of the wet newsprint and then water again. The beans/peas will come up in just a few days, so check each day for sprouts, then remove newspaper and keep the plot moist but not soaking until beans have established roots and are growing.

Despite these extreme hot and dry days, I’m preparing ground for planting the fall and winter garden, although I won’t be planting mustard, turnips and lettuce until the temperature moderates — that’s just common sense, unless you want to go to extravagant lengths to build shades with drip irrigation that will shield some of the fierce heat and moisture-sucking rays of the afternoon sun.

Heirloom varieties of tomatoes, peppers, squash and hundreds of other vegetables are making a national comeback, said Ronnie Cummings, director of the Organic Consumers Association. The National Heirloom Exposition was conceived to create awareness on issues surrounding “pure food.”

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