There's nothing wrong with being a little lazy when
it comes to working out in the hot sun during this time
year. But don't be lazy about harvesting your vegetables.
If you don't pick the fruits of your labor, the plants will
generally stop producing.
Most vegetables are annuals and their natural cycle is
to grow, bloom, produce fruit and ripen seeds. If you leave
fruit on the eggplants, the seeds inside start ripening,
start maturing. This is very energy consuming for the plant
and generally is done at the demise of other plant parts.
Or, if seeds start to ripen, the plants are signaled "mission
accomplished" and there is no need to produce more
fruit. So if you want a continuous supply of fresh veggies,
you must be diligent and keep that mature fruit picked from
There is one rule that applies to all vegetables. Do not
leave over mature fruit on the vine, even if it is too big
for harvesting. Pick it and compost it.
Beans - harvest 4-6" long and seeds inside are still
small. Pull pods gently, yanking may actually uproot the
plant or pull them away from trellis.
Cantaloupes - netting on skin should be pronounced and
the skin should change from green to yellow. Look for a
crack between the stem and fruit so the cantaloupe separates
from the vine easily. Cantaloupe that has been picked should
smell very sweet at the point where the vine attaches itself
to the fruit.
Corn - When silks turn brown, remove ear with a sharp twist.
Don't yank. Top ear on plant matures a day or two earlier
than those below. Puncture a kernel. If liquid inside kernel
is light like skim milk, the ear is ready, if clear, it's
too immature. If white like cream, it is over mature and
will taste starchy.
Cucumbers - Harvest them anytime after they're 3"
long. Understand that the seeds get larger and harder as
fruit approaches full size.
Eggplants - The purple varieties should be glossy and deeply
colored, not faded. If the fruit has faded, it is overripe
and contains small, hard seeds that may taste bitter.
Okra - harvest every day or two when pods are 3" long.
Pods over 5" long get tough and stringy. Use sharp
knife as pods don't pull easily from vine. Don't forget
to wear gloves and long sleeves to protect you from these
Peppers - Harvest any size, If you allow them to reach
full size they'll turn red and last longer in storage. Use
pruners or sharp knife and you can damage entire plant.
Summer squash- Harvest yellow when it's 3-6 inches long.
Zucchini when it is 4-8" long and scallop when it's
3-5 inches across. Blossoms are edible as well. Fried squash
blossoms are a real Southern treat.
Tomatoes - Harvest when brightly colored but still firm.
Fruit reaches peak flavor 5-6 days after it begins to blush.
Ripe tomatoes hold flavor for about two day on vine before
they taste overripe.
Watermelon - Look for skin that is starting to dull. And
for the bottom of melon where it rests on ground turn from
white to yellow. Experienced gardeners can determine ripeness
by the sound of the thump when they flick their middle finger
against the melon. A hollow sound means the melon is ripe.
Tomato Problems with David Chambers
David Chambers is in charge of growing Tomatoes
at Callaway Gardens. He grows his Tomatoes on a trellis.
Even David encounters Tomato problems. Today we discuss
a few: Tomato Blight - comes from the soil, Blossom End
Rot - not much can be done, Cracking - heavy rains, possibly
too much nitrogen, Cat Facing - poor pollination, tapping
on the vine can help.
Some tend to give up on their gardens this time of year.
Several steps should be followed to keep those annual beds
beautiful. Fertilize - this will help new growth. Use a
10-10-10, it's inexpensive and easy to find. Use about 1
pound for every 100 Square feet. Deadheading - if flowers
have faded take them off, new growth will follow. Replace
faded plants - if a plant hasn't made it, dig it up and
replace it. The whole bed will look better.
Parker Andes shows us two methods to propagate
Begonias. Cut the stem about one half inch below the leaf,
put in potting soil, use something to hold it in place,
in about 3 weeks you should have roots. You can then place
in a 4-6 inch pot and a beautiful Begonia should be well
on its' way. Another method: Cut a leaf in 3 or 4 pieces,
put each piece in potting soil, hold it down, wet the soil
initially, then mist frequently, don't put in direct sunlight,
in about 3 weeks roots should have developed. You can then
put in a 4-6 inch pot and in a month or so the plant should
Living Color Wheel With Helen Phillips
Color combinations make an impact in the garden.
How do we maximize this effect? Think of all the colors
on a wheel, red, orange, yellow, blue, indigo or purple
and violet. Colors that are adjacent to one another on the
wheel are harmonious colors, opposite colors are complimentary
colors. When you want real eye-catching combinations you
need to interject complimentary colors.
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