August - What's in Kate's Garden?


In My Garden (Zone 5-6)

Kate Copsey
Kate has relocated many times giving her experience in gardening from sandy upstate New York to Georgia clay and many areas between. She currently gardens in Central New Jersey. Kate also hosts the popular radio show “America’s Home Grown Veggies” heard every Saturday on America’s Wb Radio.

The middle of summer and the garden is looking as good as it can being just a year old. The vegetable gardens are producing squash daily while the summer annuals like cosmos and cleome are tall and flowering. With luck they will all self-seed and make a lovely cottage garden patch for next year. The garden is right outside my kitchen window so gets lots of viewing hours. The local wild turkey plus her babies walk around it every day but alas they have yet to stay still long enough for me to snap a picture!
I think it would be fair to say that I over planted the squash! They seem so little when you put them in, and my record keeping was rather sloppy during May and June so instead of three Black Beauty on one side of the asparagus bed, I have six! You can see which are going to be the female flowers and which are going to be male very early on – the female flowers have little stems underneath them which, when pollinated grow into the squash. Sometimes the pollination is not quite good enough and although some growth is seen the little squash fruit aborts and shrivels up. In the image you can see all three phases of the female squash – the fully formed fruit at the back, the developing female flower and the shriveled poorly pollinated fruit at the back right. I think that happened either last week when the temperature was high, or more likely that the leaves above are so large and thick that it just was not pollinated correctly, I do have more than enough yellow, green and almost black to manage!
Likewise with the melons, though I did have the forethought to put a support up for them. The vines of melons go for miles, and the flowers are strung along the vine. The flowers are surprisingly small for the melon – a delicate little yellow flower that gives no hint to size of the melon that will be produced.

On the deck I am playing with container grown vegetables, and have beans in the container that housed the peas in spring. These are growing on a small trellis and are reaching out to the deck railing for support. In the other corner I have a grow-bag with two patio tomatoes and yet another little squash plant. The idea is to see just how much I can successfully grow in small spaces as well as use the images for my talks. They dry out very quickly though in the bag and need an extra boost of fertilizer to keep everything growing.

The only reminder of the last cold spring is that the tomatoes are still green. Some are almost turning and there are lots of flowers but no red ones yet.

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Gardening Tip of the Day

  • If you plan to store winter squash and pumpkins for later use, go easy on applying nitrogen where they grow. And don’t heap on an extra shovelful of manure in late summer to increase fruit size. Too much nitrogen in the soil can reduce storability up to 75 percent. Allow squash and pumpkins to remain on the vine until leaves brown and stems wither. Cut off the vine, dry the harvest in the shade for a couple of days and finally wipe the fruits with a solution of household bleach and water. A half-cup of bleach mixed with a gallon of water will kill fungal spores that cause rot on fruit rinds. Store in a cool, dark place until ready to use.