Orange light from wildfire smoke in the atmosphere seems to be becoming the new normal, but the garden continues to produce. This week I harvested zucchini, chard and tomatoes, in addition to giant bouquets of herbs and flowers. The garden is bustling with friendly pollinators.
To keep the garden producing, be sure to harvest regularly. Harvesting fruit and dead flowers can cause the plant to produce more flowers because it has not been able to meet the goal of an annual plant – producing more seeds for the next cycle. The same goes for leafy herbs – pinching the basil flowers can not only prevent the taste from changing, but can also encourage new growth of side shoots. If the flowers / fruits are “long gone” and dried on the plant, try saving the seeds for next year!
Many heat lovers – like tomatoes, beans, eggplants, peppers, cucumbers, and summer and winter squash – can also use a dose of fertilizer around now if you want them. continue to produce until frost. Long-ripening plants like tomatoes will continue to flower until fall, but an early frost can end the season before they ripen. Pinching off flowers or “clipping” plants by removing primary growth sends a signal to the plant to focus on existing fruit.
Have you planned the fall garden? Kale, Swiss chard, cauliflower, and cabbage can all be planted now, as can the next round of root vegetables like beets, carrots, and radishes. Germination in the garden can be patchy without constant humidity (which can be difficult during those 80 degree days), so you can increase your success by starting the seeds in trays and transplanting them. Local nurseries are also supplied with seedlings started for transplanting.
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About the BOG
The Ballinger Organic Garden is a volunteer-led effort to develop a community garden at Ballinger Park. The BOG, in partnership with MLT Recreation & Parks and the MLT Senior Center and funded by a grant from the MLT Community Foundation, is currently in “Phase 0” while larger construction activities (stream restoration and trail installation) are completed. Phase 0 involves the maintenance of the existing raised beds and a garden plot on the south side of the MLT Senior Center in Ballinger Park. Phase 1 will involve the installation of a larger garden with plots available for community members to maintain. Do you feel like volunteering, or have an idea of what you want to see in the future garden? Please let us know.
Robyn Rice grew up in eastern Washington, pulling weeds and picking up rotten fruit as dreaded chores assigned by his master gardener father. Today, Robyn is a fisheries biologist for an environmental consulting firm and has been gardening in the Seattle area since 2010. Her scientific knowledge leads to endless research into the “right” way to do things, but her enthusiasm and her sense of adventure lead her to garden fearless because hey, what’s the worst that can happen?