By Argen Duncan: PNT Senior Writer
With the middle of the growing season here, plants need plenty of water, and there’s still time to plant vegetables for a late harvest, according to local garden experts.
“At this juncture, the thing to stay on top of is the water,” said Patrick Kircher, Roosevelt County extension agent.
With the heat, he said, plants lacking water might not be pollinated and might not produce fruit. He recommended putting mulch around plants to conserve moisture, as well as control weeds.
However, Curry County Extension agent Stan Jones cautioned that over-watering tomatoes would keep them from producing. Also, irregular watering causes cracked tomatoes, he said.
To catch signs of disease or insect problems early, Kircher said, gardeners should watch for changes in plants’ appearance.
“There’s nothing better than just time spent in the garden,” he said.
The more familiar people are with the plants, Kircher said, the better equipped they are to notice problems. They should look for such things as discolored or misshapen leaves, webbing from mites, insect eggs and dying fruit.
Getting ahead of the problem is important, Kircher said, because if insects or disease overwhelm the plants, there’s nothing to do but remove it.
“And when you’ve put that time and energy in a plant, you sure hate to lose it,” he said.
Jones said gardeners should make sure any insecticides they use are labeled to control the pest in question, and they should be sure not to overapply the substances.
Trader Horn’s True Value Hardware manager Alan Roberts said gardeners need to ensure their plants have enough iron because the soil here doesn’t provide enough.
Although many gardens are already in, vegetable gardener and Portales Farmers Market manager Margie Plummer said people could plant squash, cucumbers, beans, turnips, brocolli and cabbage now.
Kircher said he’s starting to see more people gardening. He and his family do so.
“I enjoy the fresh produce,” he said.
Plummer said gardeners know what chemicals have been put on their produce.
“It’s fresher than what’s been shipped in, so it retains all of the vitamins,” Plummer continued.
Farmers Market vendor Don Wiley said people could grow a bigger variety of produce than they could find in the store.
Gardening is hard work, Plummer said, but gardeners enjoy it.