By RITA LANGLAIS
Master Gardener

When I hear “harvest” my mind immediately goes to the vegetable garden.  I was late getting my vegetable garden in so although it is growing nicely, we are not quite ready to begin harvesting.  I think the leaf lettuce and spinach may be close.

High heat and humidity makes fruits and vegetables more susceptible to invasions of pests and diseases.  Here are a few tips for all your gardens;

– Thin crowed plants for better air flow, (when thinning beets make sure to keep, clean and use the young ones you’ve pulled.  They can be used in salads or cooked and served as beet greens).

  • Only water in early morning so foliage dries with the upcoming sun.  Gardens should receive a minimum of 1 inch of water per week.  Remember that potted plants dry out much quicker and should be watered daily or at least every other day.
  • Spray tomatoes and cucumbers with a copper fungicide safe for food.
  • Keep mature vegetables harvested to keep the plants producing (e.g. lettuces, green beans, yellow beans, etc.)
  • Depending upon whether you planted early or late varieties of root vegetables most can stay in the ground until frost.  (e.g. beets, carrots, etc.)
  • Summer squash and zucchini need to be harvested when they reach 5”-6” for best flavor and to keep the plant producing.
  • Winter squash (i.e. Hubbard, Acorn, etc.) and pumpkins should stay on the vine until the stems begin to shrivel.  Most winter squash can withstand a frost or two.  Pumpkins should be harvested before frost.

Harvesting for me also means cutting back all the flowers that have come and gone by.  In other words, lots of deadheading.  Aside from the fact that esthetically the plants, and subsequently the gardens, look good, deadheading serves many purposes.

  • It helps extend the flowering season for all annuals,
  • It will help many border plants (e.g. Dianthus, Perennial Geraniums) produce a second round of flowers in late summer to early fall.
  • It keeps the gardens looking alive instead of slowly dying.

Now is the time to truly enjoy all the fruits of your labor from all your gardens.