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Gardening Articles: Care :: Seeds & Propagation

Heat-loving Harvest (page 2 of 3)

by Susan Littlefield

Growing and Harvesting

Growing Eggplant Give them full sun, warm, fertile soil, and make sure plants have a consistent supply of soil moisture for the biggest, best tasting harvest. Eggplants also need a steady supply of nutrients, so give them a half-strength feeding with a soluble fertilizer like fish emulsion every two weeks once they begin to set fruit.

Flea beetles love eggplant as much as we do, so be sure to keep an eye out for these tiny black beetles that jump like fleas when disturbed and can chew so many small holes in leaves, they look like they've been riddled with buckshot! Cover plants with row covers to protect them. Young plants are most vulnerable, but because eggplants are self-pollinating, you can leave covers in place all season if you choose.

Harvesting Eggplant Pick fruits young for the sweetest and most tender harvest, when they've reached about one-half to two-thirds the mature size of the variety you're growing. Select fruits with shiny skins that spring back when pressed gently with a finger. Use a knife or scissors to cut the tough stems to avoid breaking branches.

Growing Okra When direct-sown seedling are about 8 inches tall, thin them to stand 24 inches apart. Sidedress plants with fertilizer when they begin to set pods. Be careful when weeding near plants to avoid disturbing their roots. Make sure plants have a consistent supply of water. If plants in long-season areas begin to peter out in late summer, prune them back to 2 inches above secondary buds and give them a feeding with a soluble fertilizer. They'll put out new growth that will bear in the fall.

Harvesting Okra Cut pods when they are 2 to 4 inches long. Bigger pods will be tough. If some pods get away from you and grow too large, pick them anyway in order to keep the plant producing new pods. Pods taste best when used soon after they've been harvested.

Growing Tomatillos Space plants at least 2 feet apart; 3 feet is better in warm climates. You can let plants sprawl or support them in cages or with a trellis. If you choose not to support them, lay down straw mulch so ripening fruits won't rest directly on the soil.

Harvesting Tomatillos Pick the fruits when the husks that surround them turn from green to tan, but the fruits are still firm and green. Overripe tomatillos are tough and bitter.

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