Once our night time temperatures stay above 80 degrees, tomatoes, squash, and cucumbers will struggle to set fruit and fight off pests and disease. Situating plants in an area that receives afternoon shade will help quell the brutal Florida sun.
HARVEST AND PRUNE
Pruning tomato branches that touch the ground and keeping water off the leaves of these plants will also reduce the chance of disease. If you see any disease or pest infestations, cut off the infected leaves, and dispose of them outside of the garden.
After dealing with disease, make sure to wash your hands and pruners before you touch healthy plants!
Harvesting veggies at the proper size will also ensure a longer season. If veggies are allowed to grow too big or go unpicked, the plant concentrates its energy on creating seeds, not more fruit. If birds or squirrels are stealing your tomatoes and peppers, you can harvest them when the shoulders of the fruit are maturing but the bottoms are still green. They will finish ripening on a windowsill.
WATER THE SUMMER WINNERS
Eggplant, okra, peppers, basil, and beans are the workhorses of the summer garden. They will continue to produce until cold weather returns. Ensure you are watering enough during hot weather, if the soil is too dry these veggies will drop their flowers before fruit is produced. If the plants become top heavy, you can place a 2-3’ stake near the base of the plant and loosely tie the stem to it with twine. This is especially helpful in areas with heavy winds.
FERTILIZE & PREVENT PESTS
As the season drags on, you may notice yellowing leaves on your plants as they use up all the available nutrients in your soil. We recommend fertilizing with worm castings or fish emulsion if your garden needs a boost. Our favorite brand of fish emulsion is Indian River Organics. Both amendments are non-burning and can be applied directly to the soil. As fish emulsion contains trace amounts of oils, make sure to spray in the evening to prevent sunburn on leaves.
If you see aphids, very small green bugs that cluster on the underside of leaves or flowers, put a couple of drops of liquid soap in a bucket of water, dip your fingers in the water and roll the aphids off the leaves. Mixing ½ tsp of pure castile soap in a one liter spray bottle filled with water will also work if sprayed in the evening and rinsed off. Ensure there are no lady bug larvae, eggs or adults on the leaves as they are an aphid’s natural predator.
Find more of Shelby’s advice at www.dogdaygardens.com