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Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Itís time. Most of the tomatoes are getting leggy. Cucumber vines once green and lush are beginning to slow down. Okra plants are reaching for the sky. Even though they have been tasty, one only wishes to eat so many fresh green beans, unless you count our cat, Miss Freddie, who always comes when beans are being snapped to get her fair share.
August is the time my husband and I sit down and talk about what we want to plant in our garden next year. We make a list that we will refer to in spring when planting time comes, noting which varieties were keepers for us and those that were not, either because of taste or where and how they were planted. We also find we need to adjust the number of plants we purchase to suit our planting area and consumption.
Our favorite and best producing tomatoes this year have been Rutgers and Better Boys. At this stage in our garden, the two Better Boys in pots still have blooms, plenty of foliage and a fair crop of tomatoes. We have been pleased to see that the tomatoes in pots have out produced our tomatoes in the garden bed. We did decide that planting in a square pot rather than the round tapering pot would be preferable. I love cherry tomatoes, but this year I planted one in a pot with irrigation on the deck. It got entirely too much water. I dropped some seeds down in the pot hoping to would get a new plant to carry me throughout the fall. So far nothing has sprouted, but I do like the taste of the Supersweet 100 and will plant one again next year Ė without the automatic watering.
We have decided not to plant a cucumber next year. My refrigerator and shelves are filled with pickles from last year and this year. For our needs, I will buy from the grocery store and give the space to a couple of thornless blackberries. We are also giving up on squash. When I was growing up, we grew squash like crazy. We froze them, canned them, ate them and gave them away. We have tried every remedy in this yard known to gardeners without success. It is like fighting Japanese beetles on my roses. You have the bugs or you donít, and sometimes you just need to let them have their way. There are wonderful roadside stands, farmers markets and local grocery stores with beautiful squash of all kinds, as happy to take my money as I am to part with it for great produce.
Our Clemson spineless okra plants are more than 5 feet tall. This variety was an All-American Selection winner in 1939 and is still the most popular open-pollinated variety on the market. It is susceptible to the cold, but I like to let it grow as long as possible. By leaving some of the pods on the plant and allowing them to grow and dry along with the plant, I have great flower-arranging material for the fall.
Our peppers always do better in September when we usually have a bumper crop. I like to dice them, freeze them on a tray and then put in a freezer bag. That way I have them ready for cooking during the winter months. They all seem to do well no matter what the variety.
In the next week or two we will be pulling up our peas, beans and the other nonproducing vegetables in order to get in our fall garden. We are putting in turnips, collards, mustard, kale, broccoli, radishes, spinach and lettuce. Most of these veggies we planted too late last year and got minimal results. We hope that this year will be better. The lettuce however was a special treat and lasted many months.
For more gardening tips check out the Clemson Cooperative Extension Home & Garden Information Center at http://bit.ly/1pb9F4K or contact one of our area Master Gardeners.