Saturday, August 9, 2014

What's happening in the mid-August garden

Saturday, August 9, 2014

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.  

The summer vegetables tomatoes, eggplants and peppers, have been slow to ripen this summer, likely due to the long cool spring and the cool snaps we have had this summer.

A secret to maximizing your peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, and zucchinis is to harvest them consistently.  The plants driving force is to reproduce so by continuing to harvest, it causes the plant to put on more fruits.

We are trying several chocolate and black tomatoes this year.  They are doing very well.  The small tomatoes ripen first and are more prolific than the large tomatoes.  I have already frozen 7 quart bags of tomatoes.
Yellow, red, chocolate, and black tomatoes

I will take the tomatoes frozen from last year and make into sauce.  You don’t have to have a pressure canner for tomato sauce.  Tomatoes are acidic enough that you only need a big pot to boil the jars in.  Be sure to follow the canning recipe exactly.

I have tried growing 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.

It seems the hot peppers prefer pots.  I am trying a couple of new sweet peppers in pots this year, Nikita and yellow banana.  Both are doing quite well in pots.  I freeze the extra peppers whole for salsa.
Potted eggplant

The potted Black Beauty eggplant is doing great; much better than its sister in the ground.  I am trying a Turkish orange eggplant in one of my pots with a water reservoir.  It has finally starting growing well, but little black bugs have been steadily munching a bunch of little holes in all the leaves.  I started checking the leaves a couple of times a day to squish any I find.  Using a light weight cover is the recommended approach to keep the little buggers off the plant.  They look like flea beetles which usually arrive in the spring.  Another sign of how late the season is this year in the summer garden.

We are on our third round of lettuce this season and I resowed seed again this week end in all the pots.  We sow lettuce seeds about every three weeks to keep us in salads through all the seasons.  We also supplement lettuce with warm season greens like sorrels, sprouting broccoli leaves, chard, and cultivated dandelion greens.

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.

The zucchini is doing great 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 grow all of our herbs in the ground.  Rosemary and bay are both tender perennials.  I have tried the two rosemary 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.

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