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Monday, August 7, 2017
As you know, July was extremely wet for us in Northern Illinois. This caused a lot of serious problems for some growers due to the amount of rainwater that we got in fits and spurts. Typically in the growing season, we need 1-1.5 inches of water a week. If your plants received too much, they may have shown wilting symptoms, a physical response to too much rainwater. If you are worried about more rainwater coming in, you can still mulch around your plants. This can help them deal with massive amounts of rainwater.
Mulching is recommended anyways when you are growing most plants as there is a lot of benefits to it. The slow and steady take up of water. Keeping soil from splashing onto plants. Balancing some of the cold/hot soil temperatures. It's not too late to add a mulch layer if many of your crops are not ready to be harvested. Leaves or straw can be useful for this.
In the Winnebago County Extension Garden, a tomato/tobacco hornworm feasted on a number of tomato plants. The easiest solution for this insect is handpicking. I've also seen flea beetle and cabbage worms, adult form of a moth. Both of these can be addressed with a floating row cover if your eggplant has fully developed.
Phytophera Blight is another concern on the squash family and peppers. Symptoms look like soft rot on the fruit as it has developed. Depending on the severity and your scale, you may be able to spray.
Crops that survived the heavy rain period tended to be okay. Much of this depended on where your farm and backyard was located as to how severe the rains were.
Garlic did well for most growers this year. I heard (and tasted!) some very good garlic. Due to the warmer than usual winter, a lot of that had to do with a better survival for some of the softneck varieties. As you purchase garlic from the farmers market, be thinking about saving some back to grow your own!
Most other vegetables (summer squash, tomatoes, peppers, and others) have done fairly well for us. In previous years, the colder night temperatures (50s) in July have slowed down the development of peppers.
Peach harvest is getting close. We are probably a week or two away from harvest. If you have a tree that survived that hard winter of 2014, you are most likely pleased with this. Aronia and haskap berry plants in the Winnebago County Extension Garden are also close to harvest.
The Stephenson County Extension Garden is growing a number tomato and squash plants. Both of these have been yielding well over the last couple of weeks. At the Jo Daviess County Extension Garden, there are a number of different herbs and cool season vegetables doing well in modified raised beds. One of the experiments over in that county is growing carrots in a 5 gallon bucket. The Master Gardeners are also growing herbs in modified bags of compost. This seems like a very inventive way to grow herbs that become very invasive like mint.
The container gardeners are doing okay. Both the lunchbox pepper and tomato are yielding well so far. Yields seem smaller than they should be in my mind but it could also be that for this type of variety the yields just are not there.
And so far the watermelon is getting bigger and bigger. All things that I want to see.
Focus on weed management if you haven't yet or else you will regret this when you shut the garden down.
Now is the time to think about the cool season vegetables too.
And tillage radish, a cover crops, needs to be planted the next couple of weeks. It will winter kill but it desperately needs these hot soil temperatures in order to put on good growth and address your soil needs.