This is the tipping point in the summer, when you can still plant tomatoes by the Fourth of July — while wondering if anyone’s spring-planted Fourth of July tomatoes will be ready for harvest by their namesake holiday.
The best performing vegetables in my garden are plants that I’ve ignored. My worst performers are ones that I’ve ignored. So I’m an equal-opportunity disregarder. Good thing the landscape is emerald green, thanks to timely rain falling like literal pennies from heaven.
The first donations are coming in to the Kansas Food Bank from the Plant a Row for the Hungry campaign. As of earlier this week, the food bank had collected 112 pounds of fruits and vegetables to give to the needy. This is the 14th year for the campaign, which raised 465,040 pounds of fresh produce in its first 13 years. The goal is to reach 500,000 pounds in 2014.
The food bank distributes the produce to soup kitchens, food pantries, shelters and individual people. Produce that is at peak quality can be donated at these locations during business hours:
• Kansas Food Bank, 1919 E. Douglas
• Augusta Ace Home Center, 316 W. Seventh Ave., Augusta
• Brady Nursery, 11200 W. Kellogg
• Hillside Nursery, 2200 S. Hillside
• Hillside Feed and Seed, 1805 S. Hillside
• Johnson’s Garden Centers, 802 N. Ridge Road, 21st and Woodlawn, 2707 W. 13th St.
• Valley Feed & Seed, 1903 S. Meridian.
The other thing we can still be planting through the Fourth of July is pumpkins. Master gardener Everett Price has planted seeds for a Halloween-timed harvest in his Haysville garden. He planted a couple of seeds a couple of inches apart and about an inch deep and then repeated such plantings three feet apart.
Everett’s garden got more than 3 inches of rain this week. He and his wife, Michelle, pulled out the Stonehead cabbage and the lettuce, and are harvesting kale to make kale basil pesto. Tomatoes, cucumbers, cantaloupes, watermelon, okra and corn are growing well.
You can catch Everett at Botanica on Wednesday when he will give a talk on growing blackberries. The lunchtime lecture, which is included in Botanica admission, will also include ice cream in honor of the Fourth of July, and attendees are encouraged to wear red, white and blue. The lecture starts at 12:15. Sounds like a party. A garden party.
So we can still be planting pumpkins and tomatoes — but in an interesting overlap, the second window for planting beans is early July. This is the beginning of the so-called fall garden. The potential for a garden just keeps on coming, with planting opportunities for various vegetables through at least mid-September.
To fill the gaps in what you’re not growing, be sure to hit the farmers markets. Judy Young e-mailed me about the haul she’d made at the Kansas Grown market last weekend, in “glorious colors”:
“... multicolored carrots, Swiss chard, ruby-red baby beets, dark green spinach (can’t wait to stem it and drizzle it with fresh sage and brown butter), kale, Bibb lettuce — oh, and the FRESH Napa cabbage was so sweet ...”
The Genesis XII Farmers Market and Flea Market at Pearson’s Farms, 2430 E. 33rd St. North, will be open at 7:30 a.m. Friday and July 5, with a food court including ribs and brisket dinners, hamburger and hot dogs at 11 a.m. both days. The market will be open at 7:30 a.m. Saturdays thereafter, and weekdays starting Monday for pick-your-own produce from 8 a.m. to noon and 4 to 8 p.m.