Jun 11, 2021
This week in the garden: Don’t wait to plant warm season vegetables
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Warning: we are running out of time to get warm-season vegetables into the ground. Though September and October can be our warmest months, most plants respond to daylight length as well as temperature, so growth and production can slow down considerably as the days become shorter in the late summer.
And of course we can’t predict just how foggy the rest of our summer will be.Generally, the cooler and foggier the summer, the slower our plants may grow, leading experienced gardeners to plant warm-loving vegetables in April or May, choosing varieties that ripen early.
Another reason to plant immediately: though at this point garden centers have in stock lots of seed and small plants, the selection decreases dramatically as we move deeper into summer.
If you are planting tomatoes now, it is best to choose plants rather than seed to gain a few weeks advantage. Choose short season types, those that take 75 days or fewer to produce. Many gardeners near the coast rely on Early Girl, finding that it produces regularly and heavily even in very foggy summers.
To my taste buds, Early Girl isn’t as flavorful as some others, but many of those super-delicious tomatoes need warmer summers than we can provide to develop full flavor. And most of them require a very long growing season, with ripening not occurring until late summer (if at all) even when planted in early spring.
Other early ripening tomatoes to look for include Stupice (cool climate tolerant, 52 days,) San Francisco Fog (cool season adapted, 70 days,) Oregon Spring (reliable cool season plant, 58 days,) Moskvich (Russian heirloom, very flavorful, 60 days), and Sungold (super flavorful golden cherry, 57 days.)‘Moskvich’ tomato growing in a leaky rain barrel. (Sharon Hull — Contributed) Young pole bean plants with an antique bedframe used as a trellis for them to climb on. (Sharon Hull — Contributed)
To prevent the tomato blight diseases often so rampant here, spray your plants at set-out and then weekly with one of the organic disease preventative treatments such as Revitalize. Continue the program throughout the summer according to package instructions. Once blight infests your plants, it is very difficult to impossible to eradicate; it is much easier and more effective to prevent the disease from gaining access, starting immediately.
Many of us love sweet peppers, but they can be a challenge here because they much prefer a consistently warmer, more humid climate. Some gardeners report good results with a homemade mini-greenhouse around their pepper plants, usually using some sort of framework and clear plastic sheeting. With three different kinds of peppers, I’ve had some success with a product called Season Starter (or Wall-O-Water) though the downside has been the need to constantly remove snails from the plastic interior where they go to hide during daylight hours. (I could just look on the bright side, since their hiding place is known so I could easily collect them in a covered bucket, to pass on to a friend’s ducks that think snails are a gourmet delight.) I bought my Wall-O-Waters several years ago and haven’t looked for them recently. They may still be available locally but are definitely available on line. The product creates an instant soft plastic “greenhouse” surrounding each pepper. (I place it around a wire tomato cage for added support.)
The transparent double walls are divided into bottom-to-top hollow spaces into which water is added, making the entire structure a solar collector that retains some of the sun’s warmth through the night but allows sunlight through during the day. In the fall, at least for a few years, the water can be emptied out, the structures collapsed and stored flat until next spring, though I find that eventually the plastic disintegrates. If you prefer to avoid plastic for environmental reasons, you can find plans on line for mini-greenhouses using old sash windows. Or cover your peppers with Remay (often called Floating Row Cover or frost blanket.) It allows sunlight and air to enter but will raise the temperature under it a few critical degrees. Eggplant is another vegetable that often does poorly here due to cool summers, so you could experiment with growing them in a protected space as well.
There is still time to plant seed of summer squash and green beans. But if you don’t manage to get in warm-season crops, go ahead and plant lettuce, arugula, spinach, etc. which thrive near the coast year around. You’ll have an edible crop in a few short weeks, and can continue to plant in succession until next spring when you can give over the space to tomatoes, peppers, squash and those other strictly summertime plants.
Garden tips are provided courtesy of horticulturist Sharon Hull of the San Lorenzo Garden Center.
News Source: mercurynews.com
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Change Ad Consent Do not sell my data From One-Pot Sun-Dried Tomato and Chickpea Stew to Quinoa Stir Fry: Our Top Eight Vegan Recipes of the Day!
Ready, set, recipes! Here are our just published, fresh-out-the-mill recipes in one convenient place! These are the top vegan recipes of the day, and are now a part of the thousands of recipes on our Food Monster App! Our newest recipes include chickpea stew and peanut butter chocolate oat bars so if you’re looking for something new and delicious, these recipes are it!
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