|Zucchini, cucumber, sweet peppers, pimento pepper, jalapeno peppers, and pear tomatoes|
Saturday, August 11, 2012
August sees the full swing of the summer, warm season garden harvests. Late sweet corn (plant corn in succession and different varieties to lengthen the harvest), summer squashes (like zucchini), peppers of all types (sweet to hot, hot), tomatoes, Mediterranean herbs, cucumbers, okra, apples, peaches, pears, grapes, beans, melons, figs, eggplant, honey, artichokes, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, onion, and fennel are all in season in the Midwest.
If you are not growing these in your own garden, your local farmers market is a great place to pick up these seasonal veggies to either eat or preserve. The best buy on any fruit or vegetable is when it is in season. You can get even better deals on any produce that has a few blemishes which have no effect on the flavor. If you are going to can, freeze or dry them, just be sure to remove any blemishes first.
I pick what to have in our garden based on the harvest per foot of garden space needed. Our garden is incorporated into the flower garden mulch bed and in pots so we have to be choiceful on what to grow.
In pots, we have had great luck with Egyptian walking onions (which can be harvested year round), peppers, eggplant, zucchini, cucumber, greens, fig, columnar apple, passion flower, sweet bay, and celery.
I put the sweet peppers in the ground this year to see if we got a better crop that way. It has been mixed, 2 of the 6 plants in the ground are producing very well and the other 4 have hardly any fruits.
I also put a jalapeño pepper plant in the ground this year. It did much better in the pot. The plant and fruits are significantly smaller than in the pot.
The zucchini is doing well in the ground this year. It did well in the pot last year. You just have to be sure you get a variety intended to be grown in a pot for it to fare well.
I have tried tomatoes in pots in previous years and just did not have good luck. If you get a variety such as Tiny Tim, put it in a roomy pot, and water with a liquid fertilizer daily, you will get good results. I am just not willing to invest the time to keep it in a pot. Weekly care for plants in the ground is sufficient. A pot with a water reservoir in the bottom is the best solution for lengthening the time between waterings when growing in pots.
I grow all of our herbs in the ground except sweet bay. Sweet bay is a tender perennial and will not survive winters outside so I keep it in a pot to bring in each fall.
Rosemary is also tender. I have tried the two varieties that are supposed to be able to survive a Midwest winter, but have not had any luck yet. I have tried to also keep in a pot and bring in each winter, but have not had good luck with this approach either. So, this is an herb I buy each spring, plant in the garden, then preserve for the winter by harvesting late in the season and drying.
A quick reminder, save the seeds from your best performers to plant next year. You can replant seeds from any heirlooms or open pollinated plants. Not only does it save you money, but it also gives you the plants that do the best under your garden and zone conditions.