For those of you who are able to grow vegetables, things are really heating up now! One gardener at my plot said he had his first tomato today, another pulled up all of his bok choy ("I was getting pretty sick of it actually"), another harvested 4 mini-squash and I harvested two cabbage today (see pictures).
One thing to think about with the heat is that your "cool weather crops" like lettuce, broccoli, cabbage, spinach and kale will start "bolting" (see picture). This basically means that the leaves will begin to taste bitter the more the plant grows vertical. So, it is time to harvest what you can, eat or compost the leaves and plant the next set of seeds in that space. I am going to plant more beans and beets.
I pulled up all my bok choy today, planted some more beans and harvested two cabbage - one 1 lb 11 oz (so cute!) and one 4 lb 14 oz (I think I waited too long on that one). This is the first time I have grown cabbage and, per my earlier post about the wonderful cabbage moth, I was able to keep all 5 of my plants alive and pretty healthy. Now, I am making room for Okra and something else (undecided).
At this point, the tomatoes are flowering and getting ready to set fruit. If you are like my mom, you might want bigger fruit rather than a lot of mid-sized ones. SO, when you see the cluster of flowers on your plant, pinch off 2-4 of the flowers ~ this will allow the plant to focus on producing bigger fruit.
In addition, you can use some organic fertilizer now to help the plants survive the production. I use fish emulsion diluted in water. It really reeks but does a great job for the tomatoes.
If you are growing leeks, garlic or chives, did you know that you can eat the flower stalks? They are called scapes. If you went to the Reston Farmers Market last week, one of the vendors was selling garlic scapes and I thanked them for educating the people. Just use it as you would garlic. The leek scapes have a less oniony flavor and have been great in stir fry dishes. And, go ahead and eat up the chive flowers too ~ they add a nice color to a salad or whatever you are cooking up.
Second-to-last thought: with the vegetable plants really going gangbusters right now, you have to remember that the weeds enjoy the heat just as much as what you planted! Keep the weeds down for a number of reasons: they use up the water and nutrients in the soil, they can overshadow your plant so it does not get enough sun, they attract a different kind of insect than you are used to and their seeds spread easily to haunt you next year.
The one that is showing themselves right now in my garden: Yellow Nutsedge. Ugh, it pops up everywhere. It is, however, very easy to pull up before it sends up its stalk of "flowers" which turn into seed. Keep your eyes open for this one because it is very easy to control if done early.
Last thought: with so much produce coming at me, I use the Debbie Meyer green bags to keep things fresh. Anyone else experiment with them? I got mine at Safeway and use them all the time. Did an experiment this past year with romaine lettuce from Costco (ie: six heads at once). I put two in a large bag and covered it with another bag. Did it with the second set of two also. I put the other two in the fridge in a zipper type bag. The ones in the green bags, no kidding, lasted 5 weeks.
Also, I bought strawberries at the Farmers Market on June 9. Immediately put the pint in a green bag, unwashed. Ate the first pint quickly as they are so soft skinned. Ate the second pint on Monday June 18 - perfect. These are definitely worth your time to investigate in your house.