I’ve found it useful when picking peas, beans or tomatoes, to reverse my course each time to see things in a different light, spotting pods or fruit I should have picked on my first pass but didn’t even see them until I come back the other way. Picking pea or bean plants clean of pods is especially important, because whenever you miss a pod and it grows to maturity, it’s no longer edible, and it signals the plant it’s time to die.
I like to harvest at different times of the day each day, too. One day I’ll harvest early in the morning, the next day I’ll harvest in afternoon. The different sun exposure is very helpful in spotting color of ripening tomatoes and peppers through dense foliage.
I haven’t grown melons for a number of years, but this year we planted Burpee’s hybrid Ambrosia cantaloupe melons and others in the middle of a wide bed of hot chile plants. The bed is wider than it should be because we built two beds many years ago, before we thoroughly considered planting and harvest. I thought the melon vines would cover the bed and block out weeds, and they did block annual weeds, but not the quackgrass that infests that bed. My garden helper used a border fork, thoroughly pulling out roots of quackgrass before we planted, but apparently some either came up from beneath the bed or he missed some traces of root.
We like the Ambrosia melons because they mature in 86 days from direct seeding, and grow to a moderate size useful for a household of two humans. They’re also reliable producers, and begin to slip themselves from the stem when they’re ripe. Pets and wildlife love melons too, a fact we learned the year our beagle bit into a growing cantaloupe, revealing ripeness inside.
We also planted honeydew melons in that patch, but they don’t look like they’ll ripen soon. Their rinds should be white and feel like suede leather when caressed. If the rind is slick and glossy, they’re not ripe yet.
Leaves are turning color and some even falling, earlier than they usually do. Since leaves begin to turn color in response to shorter daylight hours, I suspect the sunlight-blocking smoke in the air late this summer has fooled leaves into turning unusually early.
Spray away aphids
Fall planting means fewer insects, usually, although those large gray cabbage aphids proliferate about the time you retire your hoses for the season. If you have a hose available, you can blast aphids from plants with a strong jet of water. If you don’t have that at hand, it’s difficult to control those aphids.
Send garden questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or Gardening, The Statesman, P.O. Box 40, Boise, ID 83707.