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Production tips for vegetable gardens

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[MARCH 29, 2005]  URBANA -- Production tips for summer garden mainstays such as pumpkins, cucumbers, summer squash, winter squash, muskmelons, watermelons and tomatoes can be found on a University of Illinois Extension website, according to Maurice Ogutu, a U of I Extension horticulture educator based in Cook County.

He said that home gardeners can find this information at and

Ogutu reviewed some guidelines for the popular garden plants home gardeners may now be planning for the 2005 season.

"Pumpkins are planted during the last week of May to early June, when there is no danger of frost in Illinois," he noted. "It is a drought-tolerant plant but needs to be watered during extended dry periods. Moisture supply is very critical at flowering and when the fruit is sizing."

Cucumbers are not frost-tolerant and should not be planted until there is no danger of frost. The plant needs an adequate amount of moisture for production of a high-quality crop. One inch of water per week plus rainfall is adequate.

Summer squash is another warm-season vegetable that can be grown during the frost-free period. Its water requirements are very critical at blossoming and the fruit development stage, and the garden needs to be scouted for insect pests and diseases and sprayed when necessary. Winter squash, as well, benefits from the same attention.

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"With muskmelons, steady moisture supply is important, but excessive moisture when fruits have achieved a good size may lower the fruit quality," Ogutu noted.

"Watermelon requires adequate soil moisture in early growth stages, and moisture is also critical at blossoming and fruit development time. Watermelons and other cucurbits are pollinated by bees, so use insecticides cautiously by following label instructions regarding bee toxicity when the plants are in bloom."

The popular tomato can be grown from seeds or transplants and requires warm soil to germinate.

"Extension's website has extensive information on the varieties and requirements of tomato production," he said.

[University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences news release]

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