Summer Vegetable Gardening Tasks in the Kentucky Garden

After transplanting warm season vegetables in the home garden, now is the time to perform garden maintenance chores. Implementing simple maintenance chores like watering, mulching, side dressing with additional fertilizer, and scouting for insects around the vegetable garden can make a huge difference on future vegetable harvests. If you have planted several warm season vegetable crops like tomatoes, squash and peppers in the Kentucky home garden, you will need this quick summer gardening checklist!

Watering is an important practice to utilize in home vegetable production. Plants require an inch of rainfall a week, so if this is not provided, watering must be supplemented by hand or through the use of a drip irrigation system. Another important watering tip is to perform watering routines in the early morning hours between 6:00am and 10:00am rather than late afternoon. This way, foliage is able to dry completely throughout the day and discourages disease from occurring.

Make sure to provide plants with water after being planted in the ground. Here are some critical times to water common vegetable crops in the home garden.

  • Cucumber– flowering and fruit development
  • Eggplant– uniform supply from flowering through harvest
  • Melon– fruit set and early development
  • Pepper– uniform supply from flowering through harvest
  • Summer squash– bud development, flowering, and fruit development
  • Sweet corn– silking, tasseling, and ear development
  • Tomato- uniform supply from flowering through harvest

Mulching can offer several advantages to the home vegetable gardener. Firstly, it smothers out noxious weeds that compete against vegetables for available light and nutrients. By eradicating the weeds, it also cuts down on disease occurrence since weeds can harbor disease and insects pests. Not only is mulch attractive, but it helps conserve soil moisture that way the soil doesn’t go through temperature fluctuations.

For best results, apply 2 to 4 inches of fresh mulch to vegetable garden plants. Organic mulches such as grass clippings, leaves, and straw will return nutrients to the soil once they have decomposed. While organic mulch returns nutrients back into the ground, utilizing an inorganic mulch like black plastic is another variety of mulch that has proven to be beneficial in controlling weeds. Black plastic is most widely used by producers in commercial horticulture production.

Most vegetables benefit from an extra side dressing of fertilizer to make it through the rest of the growing season. The recommended rate of fertilizer is 5 tablespoons of ammonium nitrate per 10 feet of row. Vegetables like asparagus require twice that amount, and potatoes need 7 tablespoons per 10 feet of row. When applying fertilizer, place it in bands about 6 inches to both sides of the row and then rake into the soil and water thoroughly.   

In order for vegetables to produce lush, continuous growth throughout the summer season, they need a uniform supply of nutrients. Here are the recommended times for side-dressing common vegetables in the home garden.

  • Cucumber– apply 1 week after blossoming begins and same amount 3 weeks later
  • Eggplant– after first fruit set
  • Peppers– after first fruit set
  • Summer squash– additional nitrogen might reduce yield or lower quality
  • Sweet corn- when plants are 12 inches tall
  • Tomatoes– apply 1 to 2 weeks before first picking and same amount 2 weeks after first picking

Check vegetables regularly for signs of harmful insects such as aphids, cutworms, cucumber beetles, and squash bugs. Early detection of pests like these can help stay ahead of the game before it becomes a serious problem. In the morning, turn over leaves and fruits of vegetables since this area is where insects seek shelter and protection from the environment. Also, be on the lookout for beneficial insects as well. If ever in doubt about the insect’s identity, bring a sample by the local extension service in your area for proper identification.  

For more information about Home Vegetable Gardening in Kentucky, stop by your local Extension Office to pick up the University of Kentucky Extension Service publication ID-128 for Home Vegetable Gardening in Kentucky. Also, find it available online at:

Posted on June 6, 2023, in horticulture, Kentucky Gardening, Kentucky Vegetables and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: