How To Grow Okra

Okra Pods On Plant
Okra Pods On Plant

Growing Okra

It is exciting to grow your own okra. The okra vegetable is delicious, and the plant produces the most gorgeous flowers. Planting okra in your garden is simple and will enhance its beauty exponentially.

Okra comes in many varieties. Okra pods can be green, red, pink, and white. They come in a plethora of lengths and shapes. Some are short and stout while others are long and spindly. The okra plant grows quite tall, usually between 4-6 feet, so make sure you allow adequate space in your garden.

Planting Okra

The okra plant takes on average 2 months to reach maturity. They need consistently warm days to thrive, which means in many climates they cannot be planted until mid-June. For the seeds to germinate, the soil needs to be at least 65F. It is best to start by planting okra seeds indoors to get a head start on the season.

Plant the okra seeds in containers filled with rich potting soil. Put seeds in 1/2-1 inch deep. Once the seedlings have grown at least 3 leaves and there is no more chance of frost, they can be transplanted outside. Space them out 2 feet from each other with 2-3 feet between the rows.

Okra Irrigation

Okra plants should be kept well watered for the best pod production. They are quite hardy, however, and will survive minor dry spells.

When To Harvest Okra

The pods are best harvested when they are 2-3 inches long, depending on the variety. If they grow too large, they will get tough and woody. When they reach that point, they are basically inedible. Cut the pods off with a knife or shears as the stems are very tough. It is also recommended to wear gloves when cutting off the pods as many okra varieties have little spines that can cause skin irritation. Harvest the pods continuously to keep the plant producing and thriving. Okra can be harvested every day in the height of the growing season. Remove and discard any that have grown too big so the plant can focus its energy on producing new growths.

Storage Of Okra

Okra stores well at room temperature for a few days. It can also be stored in the refrigerator. Okra pods keep well in the freezer which means this wonderful vegetable can be enjoyed year-round.

 

 

How To Grow Eggplant

Eggplant Fruit
Eggplant Fruit

Eggplant (solanum melongena) of the potato family, and native to India.  This plant  usually produces dark purple fruit, however, some other colors are available.

Eggplants are an excellent addition to any garden. The variety of colors and shapes make them a fun choice for the backyard gardening venture. Growing eggplant isn’t difficult. However, Eggplants have specific requirements and need a long, warm, growing season. New eggplant seed varieties are being developed that allow for a shorter season and colder climates, so if this is a concern, seek out those varieties.

Growing Eggplant from Seed

To start, if you are planting from seed, the soil temperature needs to be between 80 F-90 F. In most locations, this requires you start the seeds indoors for the eggplant to have enough time to reach maturity. A heating mat or grow light may be necessary to keep the soil temperature up. The seedlings can be planted outside when the daytime temperature is consistently between 70F-80F. Start the seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before the ideal outside temperature is anticipated.

How To transplant Eggplant Seedlings

Plant seeds in the grow pots 1/4 – 1/2 inch deep. They will need 12-14 hours of light. This is another reason a grow light may be necessary. Keep the soil moist but not water-logged.

Transplanting Eggplant Seedlings

After there is no possibility of frost and the seedling have 3-4 leaves, they can be transplanted to the garden. Planting eggplant in the garden is simple. Place the seedlings 18-24 inches apart in rows 2-3 feet apart.

How to Irrigate Eggplant

Eggplant plants demand regular and deep watering. Inadequate watering can lead to fruit drop. The plants may need to be staked, depending on what variety is planted. Tie the plants up to the stake as they grow.

When To Harvest Eggplant

Eggplants can be harvested when they reach a third of their anticipated size for the variety. This is when eggplants taste the best. The fruit should be smooth, shiny, and firm to the touch. A good ripeness test is to lightly press a thumb into the fruit and see if it bounces back. The fruit is past prime if the indentation stays. Overripe eggplant is bitter, and its seeds are large and the fruit is woody. Keep a close eye on the plants as they reach maturity so the fruit can be picked at its height.

How to Harvest Eggplants

A knife or pruning shears will be needed to cut the thick stem of the fruit. Continuously harvesting the ripe eggplant will encourage the plant to produce more.

Storing Eggplants

Eggplant should be used soon after it is harvested. Eggplant does not keep well; if necessary, store it at room temperature for 1-2 days before cooking.

Growing the Kahari Melon

Kahari Melon
Kahari Melon

The melons are a rust or copper-red with stripes of in green and cream, making this an unusually and beautiful melon. The pale green flesh is sweet, aromatic and slightly musky in taste, similar to a honeydew melon.

Planting Instructions

  • Sow in place about two weeks after the last frost of spring.
  • Plant seed about one inch deep, 12 inches apart, in rows 5 feet apart.
  • Or plant in hills, 4-5 seeds per hill, with hills about 5 feet apart.
  • In a four by four foot raised bed, I usually, plant plant a hill in a short way from each corner and let them spill over the edges and pathways. So, an out of the way bed is recommended.
  • In short-season climates, grow trans- plants indoors, starting about 1 week before last frost date and set out about 2-3 weeks after sowing; never let transplants become root-bound in their container.
  • These Melons may be trellised, but larger fruit may need a cloth sling to support each fruit ant to prevent wind damage.

Gardeners Note:

  • You may want to consider succession planting these melons, so, that you get a new harvest every two to three weeks.  Otherwise, you may find with an oversupply when they start to produce and with will allow you to pull up any vine, which may succumb to pest and/or disease.

Kahari Melon Size

  • The vines produce an abundance of 2 to 4 pound fruit.

Kahari Melon Storage

  • The melon does not store long and, therefore, should be used as soon as possible upon harvesting.

Kahari Melon Uses

  • Eaten as fresh fruit or in fresh fruit salad
  • As fresh water (our favorite method) or mixed in a smoothie


Coffee Grounds in the Garden

Coffee Beans and Grounds
Coffee Beans and Grounds

Coffee grounds are one of the kitchen wastes and business, which can be recycled in the garden. So then, the discussion becomes how to use the coffee grounds.  Using coffee grounds in the garden, basically, come down to composting. There several approaches to composting, which can be applied to coffee grounds.

The Value Of Coffee Grounds As Fertilizer

  • The three principal nutrients by which the value of fertilizer is typically measured are; Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K). Measured by those nutrients, Coffee grounds do have value as a fertilizer when used as compost or applied directly as a soil

The NPK Value of Coffee Grounds

  • Nitrogen (N):28 percent
  • Phosphorus (P):06 percent
  • Potassium (K):6 percent

How Much Coffee Grounds To Use

  • When using coffee grounds as compost or when applied directly as a soil amendment, the volume of coffee grounds should be limit to more than 20 percent of the soil or mix to which it is being added. This rule applies to sheet, trench, and/or postal composting.

Coffee Grounds As Mulch

  • Coffee grounds are generally, fine ground and easily compacted so much so that they can form a barrier not allowing air and water to pass through your mulch. For this reason, coffee grounds are generally not recommended for use as mulch.

Sources of Coffee Grounds

From you Own Kitchen

  • An obvious source of coffee grounds as your own kitchen, Americans tend to drink coffee nearly every day so rather than throwing your coffee grounds in the trash toss minute compost bin and use of her garden fertilizer.

From Your Local Coffee Shop Or Restaurant

  • If you’d like to have more coffee grounds or you’re not getting enough coffee grounds for your purpose from your own kitchen, there are several local opportunities to acquire coffee grounds. In my local area, there are coffee shops like Starbucks or on the grind from which coffee grounds can be readily obtained. As a matter of fact, I’ve seen signs in the local Starbucks saying to ask the barista for coffee grounds for your garden. However, coffee shops may be an obvious choice, but there are any number of restaurants and cities and towns which can be taken advantage of with a little creative negotiation with the owner-operators.

Related References

How to grow blueberries

Blueberries Planted as part of a good neighbor fence
Blueberries planted as part of a good neighbor fence

The blueberry not only bears delicious fruit high in fiber and vitamin C but does double duty as an ornamental landscape shrub. Blueberries are very easy for the home gardener to grow and enjoy.

How To Grow Blueberries

Choosing Blueberries

  • Chose blueberry varieties appropriate to you garden hardiness zone.
  • While blueberries are technically self-pollinating, the use of at least two different varieties will greatly enhance fruit size and yield.

Planting Blueberries

  • Plant with soil 1/4”- 1 1/2” above the root system
  • Spaced 4 ft. apart and mulched regularly.
  • Blueberries require an acid soil with a pH of5-5.0 with a high organic content to maintain moisture.
  • Newly-planted blueberries will need deep watering during their first spring and summer so they can establish themselves.

Ripe Blueberries On A Branch
Ripe Blueberries On A Branch

Caring For Blueberries

  • For best fruit production deep water when the berries begin to set and grow.
  • Add iron sulfate to acidify the soil, if needed.
  • Unless you have acidic soil, grow blueberries in large pots.
  • Feed with a fertilizer formulated for blueberries (according to package).
  • Mulching will improve plant health and fruit yield.
  • Pine needles are good mulch for acid-loving

Blueberry Problems

  • Insects and disease are rarely a problem.
  • Netting and other protective measures for birds may be required when berries begin to ripen.

Picked Blueberries In A Basket
Picked Blueberries In A Basket

Harvesting Blueberries

  • Harvest after berries has been blue for a few days for peak nutrient content.
  • The immediate consumption or preservation of the berries is recommended.
  • Blueberries can be used in smoothies, scones, muffins and a whole range of other delicious desserts. However, freezing my well be the easiest and way to preserve blueberries for future use.

Related References

 

 

How To Grow Apricot Trees

Apricot on a tree branch
Apricot on a tree branch

The apricots are a fine addition to a home growing repertoire. Apricot trees can be grown as fans, bushes or pyramid-shaped examples, or left to grow to a natural shape. Dwarf varieties are available which can be grown in containers, small space in the landscape, or trained along walls so that apricot trees can be suitable for even the very smallest of gardens.

Choosing an Apricot Tree

If you choose a self-fertile, you will only need to buy one apricot tree, which can crop without a partner tree. It is important to choose an apricot tree suited to the exact conditions where you live. The crucial factor is when the tree will blossom. Apricots tend to bloom early, so can be prone to frost damage if there is a danger of a late frost in your area. Bryan, Hungarian and Moorpark Apricots could all be good options for zone 8 in Texas.

Planting an Apricot Tree

Apricot trees will grow best in sunny, wind and frost sheltered, locations. They like a deep, moisture retentive, well drained and ideally slightly alkaline soil and will struggle in shallow soils which have low fertility. Be sure to space your Apricot trees according to the space requirements of the variety you have chosen.  Generally, I like to add two feet to the spacing to provide clearance for picking and maintenance. Mulch the trees with rich compost or well-rotted manure in March and early April. Mulch will help to fertilize and keep down competitive weeds.

Caring For an Apricot Tree

Newly-planted Apricot trees will need deep watering during their first spring and summer so they can establish themselves. For best fruit production deep water when the fruits begin to set and grow. Mature trees may also need to be watered if there are drought conditions.

If your tree is cropping heavily, then you should thin apricots to around 8-10 cm intervals when they are roughly the size of hazelnuts. You may also wish to prune for shape and size at the same time.

Apricots require insects for pollination. If there are not enough insects around yet when the tree breaks into bloom, then you may need to pollinate by hand to achieve the best possible yield. Better still is to encourage pollinators into your garden by companion planting apricot trees with a beneficial guild of plants that can help gather nutrients and which will attract bees and other pollinators to your yard.

Ripe Apricot
Ripe Apricot

Harvesting Apricots

Apricots will be ready to harvest in late June through August. The Apricots are ready to pick when the fruits have a golden-yellow color, are soft, and detach easily from the tree. Take care when harvesting to avoid bruising the delicate fruits and the immediate consumption or preservation of the fruit is strongly recommended. Apricots can be used in preserves, a whole range of delicious desserts, and dehydrated as a healthy treat.

Apricot Torte
Apricot Torte

Related References

How To Grow Peach Trees

Home grown Peach on a branch
Home grown Peach on a branch

Peaches are such attractive trees and have such delicious fruit – no wonder they are a favorite with many gardeners in the climate zone. Peaches are a delicious, fresh taste of the summer and there is nothing better than being able to pick these juicy fruits from your garden.

Choosing a Peach Tree

Most peaches are self-fertile and so will not require a companion tree to fruit. However, you may wish to consider choosing different peach varieties to be able to harvest these delicious fruits over a longer period. Peaches that do well in zone 8 gardens include Gulf Crimson, Early Golden Glory, Bicentennial, Sentinel, Redglobe, Milam, and Fayette. Ask your local garden center, master gardener or agriculture extension office for other examples of peach trees that will do best where you live.

 Planting a Peach Tree

 Peach trees will require a sheltered site in full sun.  Moisture-Retentive and yet well-drained soil is best. Be very careful to avoid planting in a frost pocket or a windy or exposed location, as peaches blossom early and so can be damaged by late frosts in some areas.

 Caring For a Peach Tree

 The first year after planting It is important to deepwater your peach tree to ensure that the roots do not dry out. During the growing season, you should deepwater regularly, and during periods of extreme heat,  you may need to water more frequently.  Use of a drip irrigation system is strongly recommended. A good layer of compost and two to four inches deep mulch will help to retain soil moisture and will help feed your tree.

Underplanting with a beneficial guild of companion plants will also help with soil cover and moisture retention, as well as aiding your peach tree by attracting pollinators and other beneficial insects to your garden.

Prune your tree as required for shaping and size requirements. Pruning aims to replace fruited wood with new growth. Peaches mostly grow on the previous year’s growth.

When fruits appear, these should be thinned to give a final spacing between fruits of around 15 cm. Remove any small or misshapen fruits when they are around the size of your fingernail. Keep an eye on fruits and if necessary, protect them from birds and other wildlife.

 

Harvested Peaches in a bowl
Harvested Peaches in a bowl

 Harvesting Peaches

 Peaches should be ready to harvest between July and September depending upon weather and the variety of peach. Peaches are ready to pick when they are fully colored, and the flesh close to the branch stem feels soft. Cradle each fruit in the palm of your hand and then lift gently. You will need to harvest over more than once as the peach become individually ripe,  as not all the peaches will develop and ripen at once; especially if you have planted different varieties. Do not leave picked fruits uneaten or unpreserved too long. Peaches are most nutritious and flavorful used immediately after harvest.

 If you do have a large harvest of peaches, you can also turn these into a range of delicious desserts, or preserves to see you through to the colder months.

Related References