Heat Setting Report-Beans, Tomatoes, Peppers

tmlgn(7)June 26, 2011

Hi all,

I thought some of you might be interested in hearing about what is and isn't suffering heat check among the warm season crops that sometimes have difficulty setting fruit in very high temperatures.

Bush Snap Beans: This morning I found several tiny green beans emerging from the dried blooms on my Festina bush snap beans. They were planted April 23 and have been blooming for two weeks with no pod set, until this morning. Yesterday the high was 111 and the low this morning was 78. Possibly, the plants are getting large enough now to provide a micro-climate suitable for pollination? Yesterday, I pretty much gave up on fresh green beans from this planting and accepted that they would make a good green manure crop for my fall cabbage, broccoli, etc.

Tomatoes: Continued low levels of fruit set on Capaya, Bella Rosa, Talladega, and Cherokee Purple. The first three are Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus resistant varieties; after three years of crop failure or significant damage from this problem, I have to rely on TSWV resistant varieties for a chance at a big crop from 12 plants. Capaya, a large roma type, has the heaviest fruit set. Also, as Dawn noted, timing of planting makes a big difference in fruit set. The 8 plants that I planted on April 20 (my frost-free date) have a far heavier fruit load than the 4 plants I planted on May 3 (the afternoon after my actual last freeze of the year).

Peppers: Gypsy continues to set fruit like crazy. The peppers are kind of small, but so are the plants and the peppers are very tasty.

The large bells aren't even thinking about setting fruit, although I did pick and toss one small Purple Beauty with a large sun scald lesion. The large bells are always a late summer/fall crop for me anyway.

Numex 6-4 is setting fruit, but the Poblanos aren't. Again the chiles are always a late summer/ fall crop too.

I set out the transplants on May 6 and kept the blooms pulled off the tiny plants until June 1.

By the way, the five day average temperatures here have been high 101 and low 71.

What beans, tomatoes, and peppers are setting fruit in your gardens in this extreme heat?

Tom Logan

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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Hi Tom,

BUSH SNAP BEANS: Have you been having low humidity or did you recently have a cool spell? I've been harvesting bush beans (7 or 8 varieties) for about a month. Then, about 7-10 days ago the blooms stopped setting bean pods. Then, 2 or 3 days ago (after we'd had ever so slightly cooler weather including a couple of pleasant nights), I started seeing the formation of new pods. I think my pods formed because of the briefly cooler weather. If you have been having very low RH numbers, that may explain it. Or, your cool nights might explain it. Often bean blossoms will set pods early in the morning while it is cool even if the daytime temps are very high.

TOMATOES: Some of the tomatoes I grow will set fruit even in the 108-111 range as long as the humidity is very, very low...so I get better fruit set in hot, very dry summers than in hot, very humid or very wet summers. Two of the hybrids that set best for me in high heat/low humidity are Better Boy and Big Boy. Now I know why my Dad planted those two varieties every year in Fort Worth. Porter and Improved Porter (from the old and now defunct Gene Porter & Sons Seed Co. in Stephenville) also set very well in July and August when nothing is setting new fruit and I've grown them for decades, and I've had pretty good success with some of the Harris hybrids like Moreton, Ramapo, Supersonic, and JetStar. Scarlet Red is another that produces very well in the heat. I'm not growing any of them this year, but in some previous summers, they have set well in very high heat. Arkansas Traveler and Bradley Pink also set well in heat most years. In our driest year since we moved here, which was in 2003, several of the Livingston heirlooms produced very well in very hot temps even after I stopped watering them. These include Livingston's Stone, Magus, Paragon and Favorite. They are some of the most drought tolerant/heat tolerant heirlooms I've ever grown. Add Jaune Flammee', Dt. Wyche's Yellow, and Amazon Chocolate to that list too.

This year the best-producing tomatoes are those that went in earliest, whether they were heirloom or hybrid, which just reinforces our need to push hard to plant early so we can get good fruitset before the real heat arrives. My so-called average last frost date is March 27th but for the last 4 years we've had a late frost on Mary 3rd or 4th so I've had to plant later and/or work harder to protect them from the late cold. This year, I had to cover caged plants that were 3-4' tall when the last freeze or frost occurred. It drives me to distraction to have 'reality' differing so much from historical 30-year averages. I've listed them before, but the great producers this year include the 4 varieties transplanted into large pots in mid-Feb. and carried inside to avoid cold weather: Husky Red Cherry, Big Beefsteak, Big Boy and Better Boy.

For the in-ground plants, the best hybrid producers have been Cluster Goliath, Goliath and Early Goliath and the best heirloom producers have been JD's Special C-Tex, Indian Stripe, Jaune Flammee', and Gary O Sena, which is rapidly becoming a favorite of mine. I think this is my third year to grow Gary O Sena and it hasn't let me down once. Among the bite-sized tomatoes, SunGold and Fargo begin setting and ripening fruit first, followed by Black Cherry, Brandysweet Plum, Ildi and Matt's Wild Cherry. This is my first year with Matt's Wild Cherry and I love it. The fruit tastes just like Tess's Land Race Currant to me, but the plants remain a much more manageable size. That's not to say they are small, but rather that Tess's is a ridiculously huge monster. Next year, I should plant Tess' to shade our 2-story house. (Ask OwieBrain and she'll confirm it is a monster of a plant!)

In the processor/paste/plum tomato category, Astro produced very heavily very early and I have a big container of them setting on the counter right now, peraps destined to become salsa tomorrow or the next day. Heidi set a heavier fruit load, but set it later and has has a little BER on some of the fruit, even though I've been trying to keep it evenly moist.

One of the oddest tomato performers in my garden is Early Girl. For me it is never, never, never, never ever early. Never. However, last summer is was continually setting new fruit in July and August like you wouldn't believe. So, I jokingly call it Late Girl and in the years when I plant it, I don't expect early fruit from it but do enjoy the late ones.

PEPPERS: I suppose I have about 20 or 25 varieties. All range from 1' to 2' in height, with most being the taller height and a few slackers being shorter and slower. All have a lot of blooms and peppers on them, but production is way behind last year's in terms of harvest dates. Last year, by now I had already harvested at least 10 lbs. of peppers, and I haven't harvested any yet, but that's alright. It's too hot to be spending a lot of time in the kitchen canning peppers and making salsa. I'm very pleased with a specific variety of habanero that is new to me this year. It is called "Chichen Itza" and it has great fruit set and fruit size for this early in the summer. I believe it is indeed going to be an early and prolific producer, as advertised. It had better be a prolific producer because I want to make a lot of Habanero Gold jelly this summer so I need a lot of peppers.

I still have several gallons of frozen peppers from last year's bumper crop, so can afford to be patient and wait for the peppers to do their thing.

Large bells perform the same for me as for you. Sometimes I get good fruit set in June, but more often, they lag far behind the hot peppers and don't produce in large numbers until late summer/early fall. For a couple of years I got around that by planting mini-bells, which produced heavily. However, they produced so heavily I got tired of picking them and trying to use them all up. I've also had great performance in some past years with the tri-color bell pepper blend sold by Renee's Garden Seeds. They're probably the most prolific bell peppers I've every grown.

I don't think my poblanos have set fruit yet either. Most of my good fruit set so far is on habaneros, jalapenos, a couple of sweet varieties I can't remember right now (it is too hot to go out there and read the label on their stakes), and cayennes.

Most of the bush beans I planted have set just fine, and that includes these: Contender, Royalty Purple Pod, Tanya's Pink Pod, Roma II, Marconi Green Bush (a Roma type), Borlotto of Vigvano, Borlotto Lingua di Fuoco and Marveille di Piedmonte. I grow a lot of Italian bush beans early in the season because they set well in the heat, and plant pole beans for fall production since they produce well here once the temps drop in the autumn. I plant a combination of southern heirlooms from SESE and Italian pole beans from Seeds From Italy, which is the U. S. distributor for Franchi-Sementi seed.

Our temperatures have been pretty hot...mostly in the 99-104 range during the day and mostly in the upper 70s at night. On the cool night or two last week when I think I got good bean pod set, we dropped into the 60s and it was heavenly! Most days when I got outside around 6 a.m. to feed the animals, it is around 77-79 degrees. Usually we don't have those temps until July or August, but they arrived really early this year.

In this heat, everything is a challenge. I did deliberately plant some of my tomato plants where they get full sun from sunrise until about 1 p.m. and then get dappled shade for the rest of the day. They haven't produced as well as the tomatoes in full sun, but they were planted slightly later and they do look a lot less stressed and a lot healthier, so I have high hopes for them. I'm hoping the break from the sunlight from 1 p.m onward will maybe keep them producing later into the summer.

It is such an odd weather year. I expected a lot of pests, and while we are having lots of spider mites (when do we not?) and grasshoppers (ditto), I haven't had nearly the usual amounts of other pests, especially Colorado Potato Beetles and Corn Earworms. Any year I'm not having to fight Corn Earworms is a great year no matter what else happens.

I enjoy hearing what grows well for you. Despite the difference in our altitudes (I think my elevation is about 830' above sea level) and the fact that your nights are staying cooler (mine usually are that cool in June, but not this year), we are seeing a lot of similarity in garden performance.


    Bookmark   June 26, 2011 at 6:00PM
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wow, and I was just going to post a question about this.

BEANS: My pole beans (kentucky and one other, I forgot) have given me 3 beans (thats right, 3 total) over my 2 dozen or so plants. They are vigorous, flowering, and nothing seems to set. My burgundy bush beans set some early, but it was only a meals worth. I thought the kentucky wonder were supposed to be pretty good about producing in the heat?

PEPPERS: I am only growing bhut jolokias this year, and I am getting more off of my one plant that I overwintered in my office (still in my office) than I have off all 16 of my first year plants. I do have three peppers on one plant that magically managed to set, not sure how that worked.

SQUASH: My summer squash and zucchini seem to be doing ok. My winter squash (hubbard) are barely making it in this hear.

WATERMELON: Are starting to set nicely.

So, it looks like other people are having issues, I was feeling sort of garden-unsmart.

This has been very sad up til now.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2011 at 7:20PM
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Serendipity is always welcome. Maybe a cool front and some rain will move in so those beans and peppers will set fruit. Squash, melons,and cucumbers don't seem to be bothered by any heat I've ever seen as long as there are plenty of pollinators. I've heard those Bhut Jolokias are really hot.


Bush Snap Beans: I always grew Contender for my heat-setting bean (those old Clemson introductions are great), but last year Festina was earlier and far more productive and more versatile in the kitchen for us. To me, Contender is the classic bean for southern-style green beans slowly simmered with salt pork. In the fall, any bean will do alright here, except in a cool wet fall when rust is a big problem. But, I'm kind of frugal and don't buy a lot of different seed varieties.

Tomatoes: I would like to grow more heirlooms and older open pollinated varieties, but the Western Flower Thrip is abundant here and is a very efficient vector for TSWV. My parents and grandparents swore by Porter tomatoes and as a kid, we even stopped by their seed company (my mother's people came from Erath County). Early Girl is also "Late Girl" here, but a fully ripened Early Girl in the cool nights of September is a mouth-watering delight. And, yes the humidity is low (5-15% in the afternoon and 30-60% at night).

Peppers: Thanks for the pepper suggestions; they are a staple of our kitchen. We still have a couple of gallons left from last year that will probably go into our first batches of salsa. This year's variety selection was determined by what I could find as transplants from local growers down in Lubbock, since after a few years of success, I had a complete failure with starting my own pepper transplants.

My garden is small. I can only cultivate an area that can be efficiently and effectively irrigated with my little house well. It also supplies our household, animals, and our attempt to have something ornamental around here besides buffalo grass and a very few very scrubby mesquites and yuccas.

I also really like to hear what other people who have to deal with a similar climate grow.

So what else is or isn't setting in this heat?


    Bookmark   June 26, 2011 at 9:04PM
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Tom, My genealogy takes me back to Erath County also. My grandparents had their oldest two children in that county. I haven't lived there but have been down there a few times and that has to be harsh country to garden in. I am glad you have found a way to make it work for you.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2011 at 9:50PM
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tulsastorm(z6 Tulsa OK)

This year, I'm learning what happens when I'm lazy and don't do my spring planting when I should.

Tomatoes: Sungold is the only one I've been harvesting. This is my first year to grow and taste them, and this will be going in my garden every year from now on. A very sweet fruity taste, but then there is some classic tomato taste in there as well. Super beefsteak hybrid has been occasionally setting green fruit despite the heat. Meanwhile, a beefsteak heirloom a couple of plants away is being attacked by some sort of insect and is only 2 feet high. I'll let the bugs have it as long as they leave my other plants alone. Cherokee Purple and Red Grape have also been setting some fruit. My Arkansas Traveler and Pink Brandywine are as tall and healthy as the others, but don't have a green tomato on them. And, yes, Dawn, I have been shaking the cages every day. It has been very humid up until now as we are starting to dry out.

Peppers: I just haven't had very good yield on bell peppers in previous years, and, in an older thread, I thought maybe I was planting them too early. I bought a few smaller sweet varieties from SESE to try out including Super Shepherd, Corno Di Toro, and Marconi. Despite having fresh seed, I had a hard time getting them started inside. I would start some more seed every 2 weeks if nothing came up. When I finally gave up, I put the pots outside, and of course, they sprouted. I think I just keep my house too cool (upper 60's). Anyway, they are all still very small, but have really been putting on leaves since I planted them in the ground and in containers. I'm not sure if they are going to get big enough to do anything this year.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2011 at 10:16PM
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tulsastorm - I find Yellow Marconi to be much easier to grow than the red one. My Yellow Marconi germination is always very good and the production is high.

We love Sungold tomatoes and I guess if I had to be limited to two tomatoes it would be Sungold and Black Cherry. They both have wonderful taste and always seem to be dependable. I was never very interested in cherry tomatoes until I started growing those two.

I had a lot of volunteer tomato plants this year and I just left some of them. One of them appears to be a Tess's Land Race currant but the fruit is orange which I understand sometimes happens. I brought two ripe ones in the house today and gave them to my husband and told him it was a taste of summer. He ate them and said he was ready. Guess we all look forward to those first tomatoes.

In my area we try to have the first regular size tomato by the 4th of July, but I normally can beat that by a week. This year what fruit set I have seems to be really late, but I may get one good size tom by the 4th. It is showing signs that it is preparing to blush. My cherries haven't started yet but they were some of the last plants to go into the ground. The cherries are covered with blooms and since they aren't normally bothered by the heat, they will probably start coming on fast when they start to ripen. In early summer I don't care what size they are and just want the taste of a real tomato. I'd even sit out there and pick a bowl of currants if that is what ripens first. Those little things are nice for salads and make an great 'off the vine' garden snack.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2011 at 10:43PM
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Tom I will try to post my early impressions when I have time. This hasn't been a typical year for many reasons. I imagine although I'm some north of you that we both experience a lot of the same issues. I have had my share of TSWV problems the last few years. Also have had psyllids. I'm growing a few TSWV resistant varieties. But overall most of mine are op varieties. Several more hybrids this year due to the May 24th hail I received which wiped out many of my plants. I have some setting fruit now. Not sure if it was the brief break we had last week or not. I'm going to try to get my plants in earlier next year but hard when we had a killing frost on May 14th this year. After the hail and with the continued drought I have waited intentionally to plant the last of my plants. Hoping that we will see a break in the temps about the time these plants really mature and start blooming heavy. Many are 2-3 foot tall in large pots. I have some plants that seem to be doing good. So far I'm impressed with the varieties I got from a NM grower. Some of his I lost in the hail. But even those that survived that were hammered seem to be taking the heat well. My peppers are late but coming on now. Better hit the hay. Will try to list varieties soon. Jay

    Bookmark   June 26, 2011 at 11:31PM
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Has anyone else grown this one. It is one I found when looking for large fruited varieties after the hail storm. I had seen a comment in the past by Mulio(Keith Mueller) concerning it. I know if Keith suggests something it is good. So far I'm impressed with it. Haven't tasted one yet. Should in 2-3 weeks. Seems to be setting well considering the temps. If it keeps up the current pace I will be growing it again. And also more than one plant.

Like I've said too early to form opinions about anything yet. Along with the Beefy Boy the hybrids that have impressed early are Talledega, Beefmaster and Mountain Magic. And among the smaller types Sweet Treats, Sungold, Purple Haze F1 and WOW.

In the op/heirlooms among those that have caught my attention at one time or another are Strawberry Margarita, Grandma Suzy's, Grandfather Ashlock, Cherokee Green Pear, JD's Special C-Tex and Pink, Petit Chocolate Cherry, Purple Haze F4 and PL, Heinz 2653, Hunt's Family Heirloom, CP PL, Golden Cherokee, Brown Derby and Black Early. I'm sure by mid August some of these will be erased and some others added. I try to keep notes throughout a season. Some tend to mature earlier while others start slow and finish with a bang. Dana's Dusky Rose from Diane was put in late and had to overcome some jet lag but it is starting to come on now. So expect it too finish well. I have a few more that I have just been transplanted I have hopes for also. And several of the reliables like Carbon, Brandyboy hybrid, KB, CP and Porerhouse hybrid I already know what they will do and what to expect. Jet Star is in that latter group also. Although not outstanding very dependable. The one missing the the hail wiped out that I really miss is 4th of July. Another extremely dependable tomato. One I will grow several of next year if I try to sell plants. Jay

Here is a link that might be useful: Beefy Boy

    Bookmark   July 3, 2011 at 1:13PM
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Our bush and Pole beans started blooms just now after storm recovery. I not see any pods yet. I am not sure they will set fruit or not. I also planted some more bush beans, now they are first true leaf stage. will they produce?

Hot peppers are doing good, harvested 3 times, they keeping blooming and fruiting. But bells are not producing except one or two little fruits here and there.

Eggplants and Okra are doing really good, keep blooming and producing. what you all do with extra eggplants? freeze them?

Cucumber are also producing just enough for daily supply. Plants next to north facing fence are doing very well, may be they getting some protection from sun?

One of the cucumber plants has been attached by tiny white sticky (aphids?) insects and getting eaten by ants. What is best control measure?


    Bookmark   July 5, 2011 at 5:11PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


If you can keep the beans healthy and relative insect-free, they'll set beans whenever the temperatures allow. It might not happen until fall, but then you never know, it might happen anytime the temperatures are low enough that pollination/fertilization can occur. All it takes is a few cool hours when the bean plants have blossoms on them, just like it does with tomatoes.

My hot peppers and bells both are producing heavily with more fruit setting every day. However, the bells are not producing quite as heavily as the hots and that's typical here. In the fall when cooler temps return, the bell peppers will produce more heavily.

With the cukes, if they are aphids, you often can just knock them off the plants with a sharp stream of water from the hose. Usually, if you knock the aphids off once or twice a day for 2 or 3 days it will discourage them enough that they will go elsewhere.


    Bookmark   July 5, 2011 at 6:31PM
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Hello Tom,

My Roma II bush beans have been producing for several weeks, and at least I've gotten enough off of them to freeze some big bags for holiday dinners, even though I had to plant them twice. The first batch of seed just rotted in the ground. What I'm seeing now are some full pods and a whole lot of pods that only have one bean in them. The rest of the pod is flat and narrow. I don't know how much longer I'll be able to keep them going. Maybe a few more harvests, at least.

The Sweet 100 tomatoes have finally decided to set fruit, although only a half-dozen of them have ripened so far. Golden Boy produced 3 nice fruit and now seems to be taking a rest, and the Golden Girl is just coming on. Those were the only varieties I planted this year. We tried some of the heritage types the past two years and they were never a success. However, I've had Sweet 100 vines that were still producing on Thanksgiving!

With the peppers, the yellow banana are leading the way with pretty heavy production and the bells are just sitting there, doing nothing. I have not seen one set on any of them so far. However, I may have ended up with some of your new little habaneros by mistake. I have 3 plants that are producing a tiny v-shaped yellow pepper that isn't more than an inch long. So far I've not been able to identify them. Whatever they are, they're producing well, as is an accidental jalapeno alongside them. They were all supposed to be Anaheims, and none of them are. I wish the banana peppers were more meaty. I tried pickling some of them and they ended up being all skin, with no meat to them at all. How disappointing.

In the squash department, both the crookneck and straightneck yellow are far outstripping the zucchini for production, and I can barely keep up with them. The greyzini has recovered from an attack of squash vine borer and is back into production. I've picked a few of the long black zucchini also. I'm not certain just which one it is. The summer squash plant right alongside looks good but has only produced one squash so far. I can't see anything else setting on it, although it's been blooming just fine.
Both hills of acorn squash planted in another area have completely died. I have no idea what happened to them. One day they were alive and the next day they were gone.

One side of the lemon cuke was dying and I thought it was gone, but it seems to have now sent out runners on the other side and they are blooming. It's very odd, but it may keep on producing.

The cantaloupe (I can't remember which one, maybe Hale's Best) that was planted in the same area as the failed acorn squash, seems to be fine even though I don't see any fruit setting yet. It's blooming like crazy, so maybe it will begin to set. it keeps turning wilty in the heat, but revives as soon as I get water on it.

I'm not much help with the named varieties and diseases, but I've never gotten seriously into vegetable gardening the way the rest of you are. I've stayed with the varieties I know, put them in the ground, and harvested them. I've never had to contend with nematodes, blossom end rot, or any of the other stuff. Knock on wood. I'd never heard of squash vine borer either, until they cleaned out all of our squash plants last year. Clearly, growing fruit and veggies in OK is also a new ballgame. I have some lessons to learn.


    Bookmark   July 5, 2011 at 6:45PM
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Hello all. I am learning a lot from your comments regarding this difficult vegetable gardening year.

The Festina bush snap beans, widely considered highly heat tolerant, met their match this year. They have been blooming for a month and I may get a handful of stunted beans and the plants are no longer producing blooms. This week, I will harvest my handful and pull the plants for mulch and plant more for late August/early September harvest in the space left by the now harvested potatoes.

All of the peppers and chiles are setting fruit, except the Poblanos, and all the plants are thriving.

The Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus resistant hybrid tomatoes (Bella Rosa, Talladega, and Capaya) are healthy, ripening fruit, and setting more fruit. Cherokee Purple has yet to set a tomato (I thought it was setting fruit, but they eventually dropped). However, the plant looks great. Maybe I'll get some tomatoes from it this fall; they are so delicious.

Tom Logan
Texas Panhandle

    Bookmark   July 5, 2011 at 11:50PM
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As an update on my earlier report, I checked the Roma beans this afternoon. They have a huge crop of baby beans, but a lot of them also unfortunately seem to have some form of mosaic. I don't know if I'll be able to keep them going long enough to get the beans up to harvest size or not. Not all the plants are affected. The ones I started later seem to still be fine. Will it spread to infect them all? I just don't know enough about these things to be able to make a decision on what I should do about it.


    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 2:14AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

BEANS: My bush snap beans produce best in May and June if I get them into the ground in April, and once July arrives, the harvest is very iffy and very temperature dependent.

I have a lot of snap beans in the freezer that were harvested several weeks ago, but there won't be any more because I yanked out the plants. However, my lima beans are blooming now, and the first purplehull pinkeye peas will be ready to harvest in 2 or 3 days, so we're still getting some forms of legumes.

If anyone wants to plant snap beans for fall, the OSU-recommended planting dates are: Pole Beans: July 15th-30th, Bush Beans: August 10th-20th. The earlier date is for folks in northern OK and the later date for folks in southern OK. You can plant pole beans earlier--you could plant them right now if you wanted to, but it doesn't pay off to plant the bush beans much earlier. If the bush beans go in too early, they'll bloom while it is still hot and then you'll have blossom drop and no beans.

My best bean harvest usually is from pole beans. Sometimes, if I plant pole beans in April or early May, they'll produce a big crop in July from blooms that set before it got too hot. So, that generally would be in what we call a "cool" summer, though none of them are really cool. I didn't even plant pole beans for spring because we were having such hot days in March that I knew we were going to have a scorching summer. I miss my pole beans! I want to plant some for fall, but it needs to rain some because I don't think I could water enough to keep them happy without some rainfall.

PEPPERS: I harvested a pitifully small amount of hot peppers this morning: 3.1 lbs. These peppers came from the following varieties: Early Jalapeno, Purple Jalapeno, Mucho Nacho Jalapeno, Ixtapa Jalapeno, Grande' Jalapano, Goliath Jalapeno, Chichimeca Jalapeno, Biker Billy Jalapeno, and Bulgarian Carrot.

Usually my first big harvest of peppers is really big, and this year it is not but considering how hard the weather has been on the plants, I suppose I just have to be grateful that we're harvesting any peppers at all. I looked back at least year's records, and my first big pepper harvest was on June 15th, and I harvested 10 lbs. 2 oz. on that date. By July 6th of last year, I had harvested 14 lbs.6 oz. of peppers, and by July 10th I had harvested 34 lbs. I'm not sure I'll harvest 34 lbs. this entire year.

A lot of the remaining plants have lots of flowers and small peppers, including Ancho Gigantea, Goliath Griller, Goliath Goldrush, Habanero 'Chichen Itza' and Cayenne, but they're not close to being ready for harvest yet, although I think 'Chichen Itza' will be the next variety to produce a harvest. It has some peppers that are full size but still totally green and not even trying to color up yet.

Our ave. high temp. since July started is 102 but our nights have been significantly cooler than they were in much of June, averaging 71 degrees. That's kind of misleading though because our temps often stay into the 80s until 4 or 5 a.m., then drop into the 70s only briefly before sunrise, and start climbing back into the stratosphere after that. Today, it was 81 degrees when I woke up at 5 a.m. and only dropped to 77 by sunrise.

Tomatoes--no new fruit set is visible on any large fruited varieties, but they're still ripening fruit that set earlier. The bite-sized toms are mostly producing well.


    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 9:50AM
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It sounds like I'm in the wrong gardening section. When I hear that some of you plant 100 tomatoes, or harvest over 30 pounds of peppers, my mind boggles. Sort of like a little kid surrounded by grown-ups. It sounds like commercial enterprise. Is it? I only have a little home veggie garden, even though I tripled the size this year, with 30 tomato plants, 8 assorted squash, a dozen assorted peppers, two 15-ft rows of beans, and a couple of hills of cukes and cantaloupe.

What do you do with all that produce? Do you take it to a Farmer's Market or what? I gave up canning over 30 years ago, once the kids were grown and gone, but I still like to put beans in the freezer for later use.

Dawn, I was interested to hear that we might be able to put in more beans for a fall crop. I tried to get them started fairly early this year but the first two plantings failed completely. It wasn't until I tried a third time that the beans would germinate. Clerks at the feed store nursery said that other people were complaining about the same thing.


    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 11:59AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


We eat all we can while it is fresh. We freeze, we dehydrate, we can. We give away fresh produce (not as much as you'd think, though, because I like canning it) to family and friends. We send lots of produce to work with our son, who is a professional firefighter. Since they work 24 hours shifts, they cook a lot of their meals while working and always appreciate a few fresh veggies (plus, it helps them stretch their food budget).

Last year I filled up 3 freezers, the root cellar (aka the tornado shelter), and the "jelly closet" (which originally started out as a coat closet, but is much better used for food storage of home-preserved food). I canned a little over 700 jars, but that's because it was the best fruit year ever and I had 350 lbs. of plums and peaches to process in a fairly short period of time. Most years it is more like 200 or 300 or 400 jars.

What does a small family do with all those jars of jams, jellies, salsas and hot peppers? We eat some of it, but give away a lot more than we eat. My DH is a police officer and every year at Christmas he gives gifts of our home-grown and home-preserved goodies to about 80 or 90 co-workers at the PD. We give the same sort of gifts to our friends, including all the members of our vounteer fire dept, and to family members. We donate jars of jellies, jams, salsa and candied jalapenos to local fundraisers for some of our county's volunteer fire departments and oter causes. I think that last year, each gift bag at Christmas had 1 jar each of jelly, jam, peppers and salsa. Of course, the ones for family members had more---maybe 8 jars.

I figure if I am going to put all the time into the veggie garden, I want it to be as productive as possible. So, of course, I'm happiest with big harvests. However, in some years you have to be happy with any harvest at all and this is one of those years.

We love eating fresh food from our garden and appreciate the fact that we know how it was raised and that it wasn't sprayed with a lot of pesticides. Now that we have become so used to eating from our own garden, it would be hard to go back to eating only grocery store produce because the quality of the fresh grocery store produce just is not the same as that of what we grow.

I garden biointensively with very close spacing so I can get the most out of the space I have. I do a lot of succession planting. My favorite way to do succession planting is to start the succession crop indoors 7-12 days before I expect to plant it into the ground. I often start beans and peas in in 3-oz. bathroom cups filled with potting soil. I cut a big "X" in the bottom of each cup for drainage, and for the roots to grow down through later after I transplant them into the ground. I use the paper cups as plantable pots to reduce transplant shock. I germinate the seeds indoors where I can control the temps and light, them immediately move the seedlings outdoors to grow in natural light as soon as they germinate. (This eliminates the need to harden them off.) At the time I'm removing a finished crop like, let's say, the mid-season corn that will be coming out of the bed in a few days, I'll harvest the corn in the morning and replant that bed the same day. In the afternoon I'll likely use my little Mantis cultivator to work the existing mulch into the soil in the early afternoon. In the cool evening hours, I'll transplant the started bean or pea plants, cups and all, into the soil and water it in. Then I'll mulch it. So, if you were at my house early that morning, you might see a raised bed of ready-to-harvest corn. Then, if you came by at 8 o'clock that evening, the corn will have been picked and processed, the bed cleaned out, the corn stalks on the compost pile, and rows of small southern pea or bush bean plants freshly transplanted into the former corn bed. It surprises our friends and neighbors sometimes when they stop by on a day I've harvested/replanted. I'll get a funny look and a question like "weren't your corn plants there this morning...?).

Doing a quick turnaround like that speeds up the harvest cycle. For example, in beds from which I harvested onions the first week in June, I'm already harvesting okra from transplants that went into the bed the same day the onions came out. The watermelon plants I put into the ground that day have melons that are the size of softballs, and those plants have been in the ground for only about 5 or 6 weeks. I have a lot of trouble with good seed germination in early spring when soil temps are too cold or soil is too wet or when the cutworms are too active. That's one reason I prefer transplants as much as possible. It is a lot more work and a lot more time-consuming, but you get more consistent germination, and there's not any gaps in a row caused by poor germination since I don't transplant any cups with ungerminated seeds.

For something like southern peas that germinate easily in warm soil, it isn't so much that I get better germination in paper cups indoors, but that I get a head start by growing the plants in cups. If I start seeds of southern peas in cups and transplant them into the ground about 10-14 days after I first planted the seeds in the cups, then those plants will produce 1.5 to 2 weeks earlier than plants that would be direct-seeded on the same day. I've grown the crops here so long in that mnner, that it is easy for me to look at the spring plantings and know when it is time to start seed of the follow-on crop. I even start seeds in cups sometimes of veggies that don't like to be transplanted, like carrots. Since a lot of things don't like to be transplanted, I just plant the cups and all right into the ground. The paper cups break down pretty quickly. If every succession crop I put into the ground is already a week or two "old" when I plant it, I get a faster harvest, which allows me to get the next succession crop into the ground quickly too....and so it goes until I run out of space, water, or time.

Fall beans are the best! It is nice to be picking them in October when the temperatures are milder. We just called them "October beans" when I was a kid because that's when you picked them. I probably was a teenager before I figured out that "October beans" was a general name for all fall-harvested beans and not a specific variety of bean like "Lazy Housewife" or "McCasland".

The older I get the more I like pole beans because it isn't fun bending over to pick bush beans, but I always plant bush beans in spring for the early harvest, and pole beans for fall, and more bush beans for fall in a good rainfall year. I'm not sure if I'll plant fall bush beans or not. In order for me to do that, I want to see some good rain falling first. About the only succession plantings I'm making this summer are additional sowings of lima beans, southern peas (I'm growing pinkeye purplehull, crowder, zipper and cream types), okra and squash. They can take the heat when nothing else can.

I'd never, ever, ever sell my veggies at a Farmer's Market. I've been to Farmer's Markets, I've witnessed idiot customers trying to bargain with the grower/seller and convince them to sell their fresh veggies for next to nothing. and it is a pet peeve of mine. It is unreasonable for consumers to expect sellers at the Farmer's Markets to sell their produce for lower prices than they'd pay at Wal-Mart and it just infuriates me. Knowing all the blood, sweat and tears, and time and effort, and worry and sleepless nights on a "frost watch" that go into growing fresh produce, I feel like the growers at Farmer's Markets ought to be able to sell their produce for more, not less, than the price local grocery stores charge. Raising veggies well is labor-intensive and time-consuming and to me it implies a certain lack of respect for the farmer's or market grower's time and effort to try to bargain them down to a "cheap" price. To me, their work and the quality of their produce is deserving of the price they ask, and sometimes I think they sell too cheaply because they feel they have to in order to compete. So, it will be a cold day in Oklahoma in July before you'll see me selling at a Farmer's Market. A friend of a friend of ours sold produce at a local farmer's market for several years and finally gave it up to get "a real job" with a guaranteed income and I can't say I blame her one bit. Our produce is too precious to us to sell it to unappreciative people for whom the only thing that matters is the price they pay.


    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 1:18PM
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    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 3:29PM
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Hello, Dawn, and bravo! My hat is off to you, both for the gigantic effort you put into the gardening and preserving, but the donations as well. When my kids were at home and I gardened a lot more, I used to put up jams and jellies, pickles and relishes, but nothing in the volume you're describing. I used to compete in the local CA fairs for the simple reason that I could cover my expenses with premium awards of jars, sugar, and cash. All those conditions have changed now. I don't have the energy to do it any more, and the competitions are pretty much down to ribbons only, although it can still be fun.

Years ago I was an officer in a 'public service' department, which meant that all the officers were also firefighters. We did dual duty. I well know how much any effort is appreciated by those folks. I sounds as if you're doing your share many, many times over. That's awesome!

I'll give the fall beans a try this year. Like you, I ended up starting a lot of stuff indoors this spring and moved it outside once the ground was warm.

Cukes, squash, melons, and even the green beans were started indoors. I used fiber egg cartons because we had a lot of them, and they also break down easily when they are wet for very long. I could also pick up and move a dozen plants at once instead of one at a time.

I know what you mean about the Farmer's Markets. I had someone approach me to see if I'd sell eggs there. The answer is no. We have jumbo free-range brown organic eggs, and I'd rather give them away to people who truly appreciate them than have someone try to talk me down to a WalMart price for them.
What tomatoes we have, I work hard to try to make the best flavor possible. I won't compete with a grocery store for them. We have too many hungry and struggling friends and neighbors who love to get a bag of fresh produce.


    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 3:46PM
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