Sunday, August 6, 2017

What's happening in the early August edible garden

Pic of edible garden this morning
Sunday, August 6, 2017

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 and taste 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.  Preservation garden

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.  Grow what you love to eat, too.  It won't be a lot of fun to have a bumper crop of veggies you don't really like.  How to decide what to plant for small spaces?

In pots, we have great luck with  Egyptian walking onions (which can be harvested year round), peppers, eggplant, greens, sweet bay, and celery.

Since we have expanded our mulched flower beds, I am growing more in the ground.  I do use vertical space for the green beans and cucumbers, growing pole types on trellises.  You can also use trellises for squash or grow bush types that stay compact.

So, what is doing not so well in the garden this summer?  I have lost a zucchini and 2 cucumbers to wilt.  This happens when they are bitten by a cucumber beetle that transmits the bacteria to the plant.  It is a good idea to plan to replant new zucchini plants in mid-summer.  I have small plants ready to put into the garden today.  I'll direct sow more cucumber seed as well this week.  They are quick growers so will be producing within a month or so.
Newly sprouted zucchini, ready to be transplanted

Most of my tomato plants are not doing great this year either.  I have several that have many branches that have shriveled and died.  My neighboring gardeners are seeing the same.  I planted many tomato plants and even had extras in pots to plant out in case something like this happened.  I planted these out last week.  

It is likely a soil borne fungus causing the issue.  Tomatoes, cucumbers, and squash are all susceptible to fungi.  I am still getting plenty of tomatoes from my collection, but it is not going to be a bumper crop year!  To keep soil born diseases to a minimum is to practice crop rotation.  

Peppers, eggplant, green beans and okra are doing great this year.  It is my first time growing okra.  They are a cool looking plant.  I got the red variety which makes a very pretty plant and fruit.  Their flowers are like creamy hibiscus blooms.

I have been trying many different types of sweet peppers to find some that produce as well as hot peppers.  Hot peppers are really prolific.  So far, I am pleased with my sweet pepper varieties. 

The flea beetles are having a field day with my eggplants.  They love to eat holes in the plant's leaves.  I go out and squish them regularly.  They don't eat the fruits, but with the damage to the leaves stunts the plants ability to produce fruits.  We have orange, purple and white fruit varieties this year.  Err on the side of picking early versus late.  Leaving the fruits on too long makes the skins taste on the bitter side.

The bean vines are super happy this year.  They had been doing fantastic until the last week.  We had a heat wave for a couple of weeks that crimped the plants bean production.  They say you don't need to fertilize beans after they are planted unless their leaves start yellowing.  Growing beans  I fertilized them all this week end to give them a boost.  Too much fertilizer will cause them to focus on greenery versus fruits.  This is true for all fruiting plants.  More is not better.
Beans on trellis
I planted brussel sprouts this year first the first time in several years.  They are in the same family as broccoli.  I am having pest problems with them just like the broccoli.  I need to not plant anything in the broccoli family for a year or two.  Without a favorite food source, they will die off.  Meanwhile, I have been picking them off and spraying with insecticidal soap for this year's plants.

The lettuce and spinach bolted long ago.  It was not a banner year for the lettuce, but the spinach did great!  I made sure to fertilize both well.  They are heavy nitrogen users.  I always use natural organic fertilizers like Espoma or for an extra boost of nitrogen, blood meal or bat guana.

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.  What do the terms GMO, natural, heirloom, organic, hybrid really mean?  Not only does it save you money, but it also gives you the plants that do the best under your garden and zone conditions.  Seed saving-fun, easy and a cost saver

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