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If you want to grow your own Jack-o’-lanterns for Halloween this year, be sure to get your pumpkin seed or transplants in the ground in the next week or two.

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Even though it's the beginning of August and the heat and humidity are still on the rise, there is still plenty that can be done in the vegetable garden: harvesting, planting, planning and amending soils for the late fall and early winter growing season.

Now's the time to keep a watchful eye on your garden. The heat and rainfall we're getting will cause vegetables to mature and ripen much more quickly than they would have last month. Check your vegetables daily, if possible. If left unharvested, a perfect zucchini can go to one that is rotting on the vine very quickly. Eggplant, okra, some tomatoes and hot peppers are but a few that can be harvested this month.

Also be on the lookout for plants that seem older and worn out and replace them with fresh seeds or transplants. July was the last month to plant okra, peanuts, luffa and sweet potato slips.

You can get a head start for your fall garden by planting seeds, which will take 4-6 weeks to grow out, for later transplanting of broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, peppers and fall tomatoes.

Cantaloupe, cucumbers, luffa, okra, southern peas, shallots and squash transplants can be purchased and planted directly into the garden now. We have a long planting season for pumpkins. If you want to grow your own Jack-o’-lanterns for Halloween this year, be sure to get your pumpkin seed or transplants in the ground in the next week or two.

One notable pest that plagues pumpkins, as well as squash, this time of year is the squash vine borer. Though the name has squash in it, it can still be very destructive to pumpkins as well.

The adult moth will lay her eggs inside the stem of the pumpkin or squash vine, and the eggs will hatch into destructive caterpillars that will eat their way through the lower vine. This will begin to cause very low vigor or even death of the plant. If you had problems with this insect last year, expect to see it again this year. Use a product containing Bt, or Bacillus thuringensis, to control the caterpillars.

Got a question?

Email gardennews@agcenter.lsu.edu.