Sunday, August 28, 2016
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.
This year, I am growing zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, figs, herbs, greens, sprouting broccoli, Egyptian walking onions, eggplant, cucumbers, goji berry, green beans, and stevia. My zucchini has faded. For zucchini, it is a good idea to replant at the beginning of August to keep the harvest going. Many do the same with tomatoes. I did plant one later and it does look really healthy.
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 have tried sweet and hot peppers in pots and the garden. Overall, they seem to do the best in pots. I am growing a couple of hot peppers-a pequin type and an ornamental small purple pepper. Both are very hot. I’ll use the tiny peppers in my season salt I make and the purple pepper for hot sauce. My orange habanero is loaded with peppers but they have not started turning.
My sweet peppers are doing well. I have gotten many peppers off my Poinsetta and several off the Tangerine and Pimento. The Tangerine and Poinsetta are loaded with fruits. My Ancient Red has not produced any this year, but are flowering.
The zucchini did well in the ground this year. It did well in the pot previously. 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 as good a harvest. 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. I had one last year that was supposed to be hardy in our zone and it didn’t make it. I put my new ones in pots and will overwinter them in our unheated garage this winter. Fall is a good time to plant perennial herbs.
Rosemary is also tender. I have tried the two varieties that are supposed to be able to survive a Midwest winter and finally had one survive this year. I have tried to also keep in a pot and bring in each winter, but have not had good luck with this approach, but many do. So, this is an herb I will buy each spring if overwintering does not work out, 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.