Believe it or not it is time to start planting your warm-season fall vegetables.
It may be hotter than the sunbaked-McBee sand to a barefoot baby, but you need to kill, mow, or till those weeds that have taken over and start fresh and new. One of my favorite ways is to spray glyphosate (Roundup) or an organic weed killer, wait two weeks then roll down or mow the weeds and plant without tilling the soil, but this usually requires a no-till planter. The dead weed debris also serves as added mulch and you only need to move the mulch a little where you are planting your seed and transplants.
Another good way is to spray with glyphosate, wait two weeks and till the soil and bed if needed, wait two more weeks for weeds to emerge then spray again before planting. Tilling the soil tends to bring weed seed to the surface where they germinate and can be killed by the spray. Personally, I like to use any technique possible to reduce what we call the weed-seed-bank or the amount of weed seed in the top 2 inches of your soil. These are considered forms of stall-bed culture and are used in both regular-tilled and no-till planting. This works best if you kill the weeds before they go to seed and increase the amount of weed seed present in your soil. A pre-emergent herbicide can then be sprayed to prevent more weeds from germinating. Remember glyphosate will kill every plant of which it touches the leaves or tender stems. Therefore, do not get too close to desirable plants, do not apply when windy, and use low spray pressure. I am constantly questioned about why a plant has bright yellow leaves, usually indicating glyphosate damage.
Remember the label is the law; therefore, always follow all label directions.
We may have to put up with the heat but eat your heart out. Northerners. It is a Southern privilege to plant two, three or more crops on the same land in the same year. If you planted indeterminate tomatoes (like Betterboy that keeps on growing), eggplant and okra they may continue to yield until frost. You may want to plant some more in another location just in case something happens. You still have a few weeks to plant short-season vegetables like snap beans, cucumbers, and summer squash. However, you may want to plant some now and more at a later date, what we call consecutive plantings, to extend your harvest season.
Remember, most of these warm-season vegetables will have many insect and disease problems in the fall that may require some means of control. Most commercial growers apply a fungicide and an insecticide treatment on a weekly basis. To reduce pesticide use it is best to scout your crop and use integrated pest management techniques to control only the problem present. My list of easier-to-grow fall summer veggies includes beans, peas, eggplant, okra, tomatoes, and sweet potatoes (plant quickly). Remember, there is a new problem with all cucurbits (cucumbers, cantaloupes, squash, and watermelons) called resistant downy mildew because it is very difficult to control. You can do a fair job of control with a fungicide that contains chlorothalonil or mancozeb until the disease gets started in a field, then you should use a more expensive product like Ranman or Orondis.
Even if you don’t want to grow fall vegetables, it is much better to plant what we call a “cover crop” on the area to prevent weeds from dominating and building the weed-seed-bank. One of my favorite new cover crops is sunhemp. It is not what comes to most people’s mind. It is actually not a true hemp; it is a crotalaria and a legume. It quickly grows to 5-8 feet tall, produces crop-usable nitrogen in the soil, and outcompetes/shades out most weeds. If you cannot find the sunhemp my next cover crop choice is southern peas which again is a legume but also produces a delicious crop. Remember, plants or even a thick mulch is much better than thick weeds.
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