The Charmed Garden

From Planning to Planting, and from Harvest to Table.


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Late Summer Harvest and Garden Care

Here in Oak Lawn, the southwest suburbs of Chicago, it’s been hot enough long enough to finish off all our cool weather greens, i.e., kale, spinach, lettuce greens, and most of our broccoli.  The tomatoes are finally turning red and the peppers  and cucumbers have come in abundance this year.

Our heat comes with a fair amount of humidity, followed by storms, followed by more humidity.  This means the leaves lower on the plants are no longer hardy. They’ve become spotted, wilty and some are just plain dead.  In order to keep your crop healthy little producers as long as possible, you need to prune the diseased leaves and remove all the leaves that beat you to the punch by falling off the vines.  This keeps the air flowing through the plants, keeping the leaves as dry as possible in this humidity. Keeping the plants healthy keeps the bugs and fungus from really taking over and bringing your crop to an early harvest.

In these photos, you can see healthy pole beans,  (they like twirling up poles – hence the name).  You can see in the second photo that I’ve pulled back the vines on my pole beans  to show what lurks beneath.  So when I harvest, which is daily at this point, I make sure I pull off these offenders, making room for new vine growth. This in turn will produce more beans, hopefully at least into late September.

In case you’re wondering, yes those are purple pole beans.  They are milder in flavor and look great in a salad. When cooked, they turn green. So they can be fun to grow and cook with the kids.

Here are photos of my tomatoes, also pole loving, but not twirlers.  I trimmed most of the yellow/brown, spotty leaves a couple of days ago, but as you can see from the second photo, my work is not yet done.

We’ve already harvested enough tomatoes to share and to store.   Still I want more, more, more!! So I’ll pick the ick knowing in September I’ll be freezing tomato sauce for a taste of our garden in the middle of our long hard winters.  In other words, it really is worth the extra work if you want to get the most out of your garden. One last note on tomatoes.  They are heavy feeders, so now would be the time to add more compost.

Beautiful Broccoli Update

In my broccoli post, I explained that once you harvest the head, smaller heads will grow from the side of the stalk. The photos from that post showed itty bitty heads. Well here they are just prior to harvesting them.

I waited a little too long to pick the one on the right and it already started to flower. I cut it small and put in it scrambled eggs with cheddar chive cheese.  Yum.

And just for your viewing pleasure here is a photo of a curvaceous garden lush with colorful impatiens.

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So go forth and harvest ye hardy gardeners and may the weather be with you.