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Vegetable gardening update

JoAnne Skelly

I’m a lucky person. I get to talk to avid gardeners, both advanced and beginning, almost every day of the week. I hear about their great gardens and what they are doing and learning. In June 2009 I wrote about the screened hoop house Doug built to keep the critters out of his garden. Doug kindly sent me an update at the beginning of July on how things were going. I think a lot of us can appreciate what he’s experiencing in his garden.

Doug reports that the spinach was done having bolted in early July, but he’s replanted for a later season crop. He had harvested outer leaves five times before its growing cycle was finished. Since the carrots needed thinning back then, he’s probably harvesting carrots already. Same is true for beets. Turnips, being a cool season crop, were finished by early July, but it’s time to plant them again for a fall crop. They can overwinter in the ground.

He has had an impressive chard crop and has enough for him, me and our combined staff. In early July his tomatoes were already 3 feet tall and he’s harvesting his first 2-pound tomato. His tomatoes were a combination of home-started seed and 4-inch pots from the nursery; all heirlooms.

The other warm season crops, such as pepper, cucumber and eggplants, have fruit on them. He’s been harvesting squash since early July too and has a stuffed squash recipe that sounds delicious (instead of stuffing with spinach, he uses chard). His potatoes were flowering then, so spuds are probably gracing his table. His onions are ready to harvest. I’m jealous.

Each bed received two bags of manure, two 5-gallon pails of fish emulsion and were top-dressed with a commercial organic soil mix. His irrigation system waters four times per day with 10-minute durations each time.

As for problems, he’s seen a few tomato hornworms. Until last week his garden house had remained critter-free, but some chipmunks broke in and ate a squash. Pretty low losses for around here; even with a mesh-covered structure, a critter or two can still find a way in.

Happy gardening and harvesting.

JoAnne Skelly is the Carson City/Storey County Extension educator for the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension.