Friday, June 22, 2012

Spotlight - Armenian Cucumbers

We harvested two huge Armenian cucumbers from the garden yesterday. They are both around 20 inches long. We're looking forward to having fresh cucumber with dinner tonight.
Armenian cucumbers, also called yard-longs, are the preferred cuke in my garden. They technically are not a true cucumber, but are from the closely related muskmelon family. These cucumber cousins not only taste like the real McCoy, but they have some traits that actually surpass traditional cucumbers for garden performance!
Armenian cukes tolerate the heat and dry air better than other cucumbers that I've grown. They are never bitter tasting, and each fruit will grow to over fifteen inches. There is no need to peel them, as they lack the thick skin traditional cucumbers have. Armenians also don't seem to cause the gas issues that regular cukes do in some people. Yard longs can grow along the ground as Michele does, or trellised as I do.
If you haven't tried growing Armenian cucumbers, then you should definitely include them in next year's garden. These heat-loving, versatile performers won't disappoint.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Summer Gardening

Well it looks like summer is finally here and with it is the heat.  It’s what we expect here in this part of Texas, but that doesn’t mean our garden has to like it.   Don’t give up though – with a little bit of time and patience and a lot of water, you can still keep your plants growing!  Unless we get a nice storm, you can expect to water at least every other day.   It doesn’t have to be a drenching drink, but get out there early morning or in the evening and get them wet.   This time of the year, even sun loving plants would like some shade.  If you can grow vines up a trellis or plant something tall to help keep the west sun off of your garden, it can be a big help.  This technique is mentioned in several videos and on various websites.  It makes a lot of sense if you think about it.

So now that you know you can keep it going, did you get everything planted you wanted to?  I didn’t!  Well, I planted a lot of things this spring.  We have been harvesting produce for several months, but the cold weather plants are about done and I have some extra space in the garden now.  To tell you the truth, there isn’t too much you can plant now that will be happy in this heat.  Not too much, but some.  It’s getting late, but you can still plant cantaloupe for the next week or so.  After the end of June, you’re pushing the window, but you can still get them in.  You can also still plant watermelon, winter squash, sweet and Irish potatoes, okra and summer greens.  Believe it or not, you can start thinking about planting corn again for the fall crop.  I haven’t tried a fall crop of corn yet, but my spring/summer corn always struggles, so I may give it a try this year. 

Jennifer posted a great link to a planting guide, so go check it out and see what else you can still get in.  It’s no fun to fight the heat, but come harvest time, you’ll be glad you did!