Saturday, August 21, 2010
In these dog days of summer, okra seems to be the happiest plant in the garden. The tomato plants are stressed from the heat and the squash plants dead from squash bugs, but the okra plants need to be picked several times a week.
The Jack-in-the-Beanstalk story may have been inspired by the growth rate of okra pods as they reach full size within 6 days of flowering! The pods are most tender when they're 2-4" long. Larger pods become stringy and tough but may still be tender and edible in good growing conditions
Okra is a tropical plant that loves the heat and tolerates brief periods of drought. It's relatively problem free and any pests bother the leaves, not the pods. The only growing challenge is getting the seeds to sprout as okra seeds don't germinate well in cool soils.
Sunday, August 8, 2010
Despite our hot August weather this week, it's time to plant for the fall garden. On Saturday at the Harvesters Demonstration Garden, we planted seeds for cilantro, bush beans and mustard greens. We planted seedlings of cabbage and broccoli.
Most of these vegetables will take 60 days to mature so we'll be harvesting them in early October. "Cole" crops like mustard greens, broccoli and cabbage will tolerate a light frost. Another member of the cole family, collards, has been producing all summer long at our garden and will continue to provide collard greens through the fall.
Cilantro is another excellent fall crop as it likes cool weather better than hot weather. Many gardeners who plant cilantro in the spring think they have a failed crop when the weather warms up. Their cilantro fails to thrive because heat causes cilantro to flower. When it flowers, it doesn't produce large green leaves for picking.
For a detailed planting calendar for what you can plant now, visit http://kccg.org/gardening/calendar on the website of the Kansas City Community Gardens.