A desire for ready accessibility to clean, safe, healthy and affordable produce has helped drive an intensified effort to home vegetable gardening over these past few seasons. I have greatly enjoyed meeting and assisting these new vegetable gardeners as they take on the challenge of this new endeavor. Unfortunately, Mother Nature has not been overly cooperative these past couple of years making me worry that my new gardening friends may become disenfranchised with a relative lack of success before their passion could “take root”. Well, our collective prayers have been answered (to a degree) this season with more favorable growing conditions for most gardeners. In an effort to encourage all vegetable gardeners out there, I would like to provide a progress report for the season along with timely hints to help finish this gardening season strong.
Of course we had a late start to the season putting us a little behind in planting as well as plant growth. Our relatively cool temperatures combined, with timely rainfall, has helped most garden plants to catch- up with their normal growth patterns. Plants that have been held back by the recent cooler temperatures would be the heat loving tomatoes, corn, basil and hot peppers. While they may be delayed in development/ripening, I suspect that we will soon be harvesting these as well.
The pest issues this year have been minimal, in no small part to the harsh winter that killed off a good percentage of over-wintering insect pests. Look out for leaf disease issues especially if cool, wet weather persists. Cucumbers, squashes and pumpkins are especially susceptible to leaf damage by mildew disease. Preventative sprays of organic fungicide may be in order to insure an extended harvest of these plants.
Garlic has matured earlier than normal while onions and potatoes seem to be a couple of weeks later than usual. Cucumbers, zucchini and other squashes are having a great season with tremendous flowering and fruiting assisted by the pollination of a growing population of honey bees.
This isn’t just a time for harvesting but also for planting for later harvests. Now is an ideal time for sowing (planting seed) of lettuces, spinach, beets, cilantro, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, summer squash and radishes. Seed will germinate and develop much more quickly than during the spring when soil temperatures are so much cooler.
Favorable growing conditions are a blessing equally appreciated by new gardeners as well as the most practiced. Personally, I look forward most to sharing my bountiful harvest with others, spreading the wealth of my good fortune. Gardening is truly more about the journey than the destination but I’ve got to say the destination has been pretty tasty this year!
Now go outside and have fun in the dirt!