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Archive for the ‘Vegetables’ Category

All about Growing Summer Squash in Your Garden

Friday, July 27th, 2012

Summer squash is one of the all time most popular vegetables grown in a vegetable garden. Summer squash is, as the name implies, a warm growing season vegetable. It can grow in most parts of the US during the warm months. Summer squash grows on bush plants well suited for rows, rather than vining squash plants like winter squash, or pumpkins.

These vining varieties of winter squash need to be grown on a hill or a trellis. Hills are not needed for summer squash, as there are no vines. The main varieties of summer squash are scallop, crookneck, zucchini, and cocozelle. Once the last chance of frost has passed, plant seeds one per square foot, following the depth guides on the seed package.

Summer squash has a shallow feeder root system, so routine moisture is a requirement, as well as having well drained soil. The fruits ripen quite fast, and unlike winter squash, summer squash needs to be harvested before the skin becomes tough and woody. The woody texture, and off flavors occur when the fruits hit maturity. Summer squash produces every two days, the squash are ready a week after the flowers appear. Picking squash from the plant encourages it to grow more fruits, allowing the extras to remain on the plant wastes energy that could be devoted to growing more squashes. Summer squash does not keep long after being harvested. Use them immediately, or the next day at the latest. As always, leave an inch of stem on the fruit when you cut it off the plant, this will help it stay fresher longer.

Some gardeners pick the baby fruits at only two days of growth, these ‘gourmet’ squashes are extremely tender and quite delicious. You can even eat the florets with the green pea sized squashes just emerging, both raw and cooked. Handle your harvest with care, as the skin is still thin since it has not reached maturity.

Summer squash produces both male and female flowers at the same time. The males have a thin stem, and the females have a small squash forming in them. You can pinch off most of the male flowers, to help the plant focus on fruit production. You do not need to peel summer squash, in fact – don’t, it’s where all the nutrients reside.

Learning to grow summer squash in your backyard is just that easy.

Growing Vegetables in a Greenhouse

Thursday, November 25th, 2010

Fresh homegrown vegetables during the cold winter months might seem impossible, but it’s not. Set up a small greenhouse next to your garage or house and you’re halfway home to having crunchy cucumbers, tangy tomatoes and fresh lettuces for your salads.

Choose vegetables that don’t up a lot of space, taste considerably better homegrown than store bought and you like. Squash isn’t a good choice because they are space hogs. Tomatoes are a good choice because they can be tied to a support to keep them neat and tidy and store-bought tomatoes don’t taste nearly as good as homegrown. Lettuce works well because it can be harvested when only 4 inches tall.

Fill the peat pots with new potting soil. Mix in slow release fertilizer as the package directs. Water thoroughly. Place the seeds on top of the soil, two per pot and cover with 1/4 inch of soil. Press down lightly and mist the top.

Place the pots under the grow lights in the greenhouse to get them started. When they have sprouted and are about 4-inches tall thin to the strongest seedlings.

Transplant to the 1-gallon pot when the seedlings are 6-inches tall. Replace under the grow lights. Move the grow lights up as the plant grows. Outside vegetables need eight hours of sunlight. If the day is cloudy and sun isn’t reaching inside the greenhouse keep the grow lights on longer.

Check the plants for bugs. Mist them off or use a non toxic home and garden spray meant for vegetables.

Fertilize with half strength water soluble fertilizer every two weeks or every fourth watering.

Harvest lettuce or leafy greens like spinach when the leaves are 4-inches long by cutting individual leaves off with the scissors. Trim from the outside. The plant will consider to grow and produce.

Brush the flowers of vegetables like tomatoes and cucumbers with a soft brush so you move the pollen from one flower to another to fertilize them. Another alternative is to use a commercial blossom set product.