Peas, peas and more peas are the stars of this vegetable garden report. Lettuce was the star last week, but, alas, the lettuce turned bitter in the summer sun. Lettuce has a very short garden life in an Oklahoma spring.
That’s because Oklahoma springs don’t often linger. Just as I wrote this sentence, the forecast changed. Welcome to a prairie climate!
I harvested purple kale a couple of mornings ago and dislodged some cabbage worms before rinsing and putting it up in a bag to be eaten later this week as kale chips or sauteed with a lovely fried or poached egg on top. Kale is also good in soups, or you can massage it with dressing and make a good salad. If I’d wanted to keep it longer in the garden, I should have covered it with row covers. I discuss this a lot in my book, The 20-30 Something Garden Guide.
I also harvested the mache. Remind me next year, not to grow mache. It is delicious, but it also takes up a ton of room in the garden, and it is hard to harvest and wash. I have it in a bag for a salad tonight.
We’ve been eating ‘Avalanche’ snow peas for a week and sugar snap peas too. After looking up the snow peas on Johnny’s Selected Seeds, I noticed that this variety is also known for its tendrils. Tendrils are fancy edibles, but what I like about them is they help pea shoots hang onto the trellis. My favorite pea trellises are from Gardener’s Supply. The red ones match my fountain, and I can see the green peas on them. They are not cheap, but last for years, especially if you take them indoors in winter. After the peas are finished, I’ll grow cucumbers on them. Still trying to find the name of the sugar snap peas. I’ll keep looking. I’m impressed that the snow peas don’t have strings. I’ve been eating them raw off of the vine.
I’m also growing peppers in 20-gallon Smart Pots, which are made in Oklahoma, and eggplant in a cold frame. Things are coming right along in the vegetable garden. I sowed bush green beans this week in the places where I had lettuce before. It’s a good idea to plant green beans or peas where you had a heavy feeder like lettuce. You’re also rotating crops which is important.
In one of the cold frames are ‘Beaujolais’ sweet peas from Botanical Interests. I’ve been growing sweet peas for a while, and these have performed really well here this year. I anxiously await the blooms. Don’t eat sweetpeas. They are poisonous.
I’ve been getting a lot of questions from new gardeners about pinholes in their eggplant and tomato leaves. Flea beetles are a problem this time of year. I pinch off the bottom leaves from the eggplants and try not to worry. I also rotate my crops from year-to-year. Once the weather gets warmer, I make sure the plants get plenty of water (mostly through soaker or drip irrigation.) They usually grow out of the problem. Here is an OSU Extension sheet on growing tomatoes in the home garden for more information.
As for caterpillars, one of the best friends you can have in the vegetable garden is the red paper wasp. The females hunt almost endlessly for caterpillars to feed their brood. Don’t kill all the wasps in your landscape. I remove nests from doorways and other places we must frequent, but otherwise, I leave them alone. While wasps can be pissy around their nests and brood, they are actually great predators and pollinators. As for caterpillars that I want like Swallowtails, I have dill and bronze fennel planted in various spots around the larger garden to thwart some of the wasps. I do the same with milkweed for Monarch butterflies. I love butterflies.
Other great predators are birds. Without insects, we have no birds. I try to remember this when I see holes in plant leaves. I know, it’s hard, but the longer I garden this way, the fewer insect and disease problems I have.
The tomatoes are growing like gangbusters in the containers. I used both 20-gallon Smart Pots and 30-gallon Grassroots fabric pots this year. I wish I had one more pot to plant more potatoes, but they are hard to find right now. I found several on Amazon and have linked to them.
Apparently, a lot of you decided to become gardeners this year. Good for you! If you’d like more gardening information, check out my Instagram or my gardening podcast with Carol Michel. We’re in our second year of podcasting and have a new episode published today on David Austin roses, rosehips, and more garden updates. Last week was on gardening with children. We drop a new episode each week. If you have ideas for a future episode, please let us know. We’d love to hear your thoughts.
In other news, we are having the roof and gutters replaced on our log home. Our previous roof was very old. It was definitely time. We also replaced some rotten logs, and now the house is ready to be stained. We’ll be just spiffy for fall!
That’s my vegetable garden update this week. I hope things are growing well in your neck of the woods. Take care.