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Plant, plant, plant!


Last updated 6/14/2007 at Noon

We have mulched, irrigated and cultivated. Now let’s plant the main summer crops that will bring in the goodies and carry on through the fall into winter. This is an exciting time for getting things started. The weather is perfect for planting, and the timing is right on.

First get tomatoes, peppers and eggplants from local nurseries and garden supply centers. Figure five to 10 pounds of tomatoes per plant, 10 to 15 peppers (sweet) per plant and 30 or more hot peppers per plant. A couple of eggplants is a lot; one Black Beauty Glob and one Asian will satisfy most of us.

By the way, all of these crops do great when grilled on the barbie. Thinly slice with a little olive oil and seasoning and go for it. And the tomatoes, hot peppers and sweet peppers with onions and cilantro will make an outstanding fresh salsa. Season with a little salt and garlic.

Cilantro can be planted now from seed. It will last a couple of months and can be replanted regularly as desired. Green onions are usually available as plants, bulbs or seeds. Keep a succession going for fresh green onions all summer and fall (large ones do not form well in the heat). Buy shallots in the store and plant the individual bulbs (root down) and have fresh shallots or let them bulb out a pinch to dry them. They are a great subtle addition to soups, stir fries and the like.

If you have any melons going you might want to look at them for harvesting. Cantaloupes will color, have a great aroma and separate from their stems when they are really ripe. Watch them closely because they can get old fast. Honeydews and exotic melons do great here also; this is a perfect time to plant another last crop of these sweet delights. Give them three to four feet of space to grow.

Smaller varieties of watermelons can be planted one more time. Icebox varieties, yellow flesh or orange flesh (ultra sweet) watermelons take up less space and produce faster. The harvest technique with watermelon is to watch for the tendril where the stem meets a main branch near the melon; when this dries up, the melon is ready.

Okra is a great crop for all you expatriate Southerners, as are bush beans (the blue lake variety is string-less). There is still plenty of time to plant a couple of cucumbers to go with those Greek salads. Slice the cukes with onions and marinate them in “Mirin” (a form of rice vinegar) to make a Japanese salad. In fact, you could get a couple more plantings of cucumbers before summer’s over.

The same with summer squash (zucchini and yellows, for example). This time of year, one or two squash plants is perfect, as they produce so quickly. Harvest and put them through the food processor to shred them. Great addition to salads. Turnips will shred beautifully also.

Corn can still be planted every two weeks until the end of July. A few plants at a time will keep a steady supply happening. Be careful not to plant them so they shade the other sun-loving summer varieties, as this could cause a reduction in fruiting on many types of crops.

Carrots, beets, onions and greens, if harvested young, will work but will need a lot more water than the summer varieties. Put them on a different system.

Marigold, petunias and zinnias are all heat-loving flowers that will add sparkle to any garden. Fertilize flowers and watch the large beautiful flowers you will have. Color adds culture to your garden – it soothes the savage beast in all of us.

Is this weather great or what?


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