Vegetable gardens show stress of heat

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This white-skinned cucumber is growing at the Wilson Botanical Garden. It is a delicious cucumber for fresh use or for pickling.
This white-skinned cucumber is growing at the Wilson Botanical Garden. It is a delicious cucumber for fresh use or for pickling.
Contributed photo

When temperatures start to rise in the summer, you may notice that your vegetable plants are producing lots of flowers but little or no fruit is being set. While this problem is most noticeable on tomatoes, it also affects peppers, beans, squash and several other summer crops.

When daytime temperatures rise over 90 to 95 degrees and nighttime temperatures remain above 70 to 75, fruit set in many vegetables declines and, in some cases, stops completely.

This is partially due to poor pollen as bees do not forage as much in extreme heat. On very hot days, bees cluster outside unshaded hives and do not work.

Another reason is water stress during the heat of the day. When plants cannot keep their leaves full of water, they also do not have the water to spare for producing fruits such as tomatoes, peppers or beans. There are little gardeners can do to prevent low production during heat waves except to keep plants as healthy as possible.

The good news is when temperatures cool down a little, production will start back up.

If you are not currently growing a vegetable garden but have always wanted to, then please visit the Wilson Botanical Gardens at 1806 SW Goldsboro St.

The Wilson Extension Master Gardeners grow a variety of heirloom and unique vegetables in the Heritage Garden. This garden always inspires me to try new things. This garden is also used to help us evaluate what vegetables grow best so we can grow those varieties for our annual spring plant sale.

You may think of the Wilson Botanical Gardens as just a pretty place, but it is so much more. It is a demonstration garden so our master gardeners can try new plants, try new pruning or gardening techniques and evaluate how plants do in our local climate.

Be sure to visit and see our “striped corn,” considered most beautiful corn in the world. Striped corn is an ornamental corn with vibrant stripes of green, white, pink and yellow foliage. It takes 85 days to reach maturity, and the kernels are crimson-black with wine-colored tassels. This corn is usually dried and the kernels ground into meal. There is a rich history of this corn being brought to the U.S from Japan in 1870 and because of this you can get non-GMO seed.

We also are growing a miniature white-skinned variety of cucumber with black spines. The production of cucumbers started early in the season and has been high yielding. It only takes 50 days to reach maturity, so you still have time to plant another crop of cucumbers. It is a delicious cucumber for fresh use or for pickling.

Many white-fruited types are known to be bitter, but not this miniature white cucumber. We trellis our cucumbers using a hog panel folded in half to make a tunnel. The trellis makes it super easy to see and harvest the cucumbers plus reduces the chance of disease or rot.

For more information contact your local Wilson County master gardener volunteers at 252-237-0113 or email them at wilsonemgv@hotmail.com.