by Master Gardener Nancy Dowling
Enough already, the tomatoes seem to be screaming. It’s too hot; you expect too much from me. And I agree. It is too hot to put out new fruit, too hot to stand up straight and tall and too hot to look good! The current run of heat and humidity has taken its toll on our largest tomatoes. Smaller varieties, like the Sungolds and Romas, seem to hold up better and longer, but the big ones are pooped. I predict that as soon as these days of over 95 degrees break, and September rolls around, these smaller varieties will be happy and abundant for us, but I’m not so sure about the big heirlooms. (Do you remember that only last month we harvested three huge basketfuls of beautiful tomatoes each week?)
When it gets this hot, we see our heat-loving vegetables enjoying themselves. Look, for example, at the abundance of our Monte Gusto (yellow) pole beans (decorated with nasturtiums) in a wicker basket. These pole beans enjoy this heat as long as they get some rain (or watering) from time to time. These should continue through September without stopping.
We are still pulling some bush beans (see the purple ones with the butternut squash) but they do look tired. They do not last as long in the garden as pole beans. And since all legumes act as cover crops in soil, their roots will add to our future productivity and soil richness for whatever will follow them in these beds in fall and next spring.
I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts about last year’s failure with peppers due to phytophthora problems in our soil. I’m happy to report that by rotating the pepper beds and due to Judy Salveson’s diligent search for phytophthora-resistant breeds, we have beautiful plants and peppers this year. We have a hot pepper bed and a sweet pepper bed. I’ve included pictures of harvested peppers and eggplants, pretty enough to be a centerpiece for a dinner party. I’m also including pictures of the plants just because I’m so thrilled to finally have great peppers in the OVG!
Other vegetables we are still harvesting include Swiss chard, cucumbers, okra, crowder peas and tromboncino squash. The heat has slowed some of these, but we should continue to harvest into September. Check back here next month, and I’ll keep you posted.