Warm weather crops for your vegetable garden
In late spring, as weather warms up, you can start thinking about the warm weather crops that will be planted in your garden. Warm weather crops tend to grow best in full sun and will be killed by frosts. Here is a list of warm weather crops that you can include in your garden.
There is nothing like a homegrown tomato! In Flagstaff you may need to be patient to get one though as our relatively cool, short growing season isn’t always conducive to getting them ripe in time.
Tomatoes varieties are either Determinate or Indeterminate. Determinate (bush) varieties do not need pruning and may be grown with or without support. The fruit on each plant ripens within a concentrated time period. Indeterminate (climbing) varieties should be staked, trellised, or caged and pruned for best results. The fruits on indeterminate varieties ripen over an extended period of time.
Tomato plants are best started indoors and then transplanted out when the chance of frost has passed. To get an earlier start, some gardeners like to use devices such as “walls of water”, black plastic, or old soda bottles to surround their plants with. These devices form a heat bank. Many people in Flagstaff also plant their tomatoes in 5 gallon plastic pots. This provides the opportunity to move your plants around if necessary and putting a tomato cage inside provides a nice structure for throwing a blanket over if necessary.
When choosing varieties for Flagstaff, early season types are the best. Some tomatoes that have proven to be successful here include:
Sasha’s Altai, Early Girl, Sweet 100, Sun Gold, Galina, Moskvich, Gold Nugget, Oregon Spring, Siberian, Stupice, Pallo de Fuoco and Black Krim.
Summer squash are some of the most popular home garden crops because they grow rapidly, yield abundantly, and are successful in nearly all climates (including ours)!
Summer squash grow on large, bushy plants and come in a variety of shapes and colors. The immature fruits are eaten before the skin hardens and the fruit becomes seedy. The fruit must be watched carefully, as they grow very quickly. If you are good about picking your squash regularly, they will tend to produce more.
For earlier fruit, plant indoors and transplant them to the garden about 3 week later. Squash plants have male and female flowers on the same plant and are generally pollinated by bees. If pollinator activity seems slow around your squash plants, you can pollinate them by hand. If your plants are more productive then you can handle, the blossoms can be carefully taken off and prepared for eating. They are delicious!
Just a few of the varieties that work for Flagstaff: Costata Romanesco, Yellow Crookneck and Straightneck, Sunburst, Spineless Zucchini
The cool, crispness of cucumbers makes them very popular among backyard growers. There are many varieties of cucumbers from which to choose, including those specifically bred for slicing and those used for pickling. Cucumbers can come in bush or vine varieties. Vines can be trained on a trellis or fence along the edge of the garden, taking up less space and keeping the fruit off the soil.
Cucumbers may be harvested and used from the time they are 1¼ inches long until they begin to turn yellow. Cucumber fruits may become bitter if plants are grown under severe stress caused by lack of water, low fertility, disease, or unusually hot weather. Harvest cucumbers regularly to keep them producing longer. Just as in summer squash, fruit left on the vine will inhibit further flower formation.
Try these varieties for delicious homegrown cucumbers: Northern Pickling, Homemade Pickles, Sweet Marketmore, and Lemon Cucumbers
Other Cool Weather Crops and Suggested Varieties
Winter Squash: Cream of the Crop, Sweet Mama, Table Gold Acorn
Eggplant: Orient Express, Black,
Sweet Peppers: Antohi Romanian, California Wonder, Ace, Sweet Chocolate, Purple Beauty Bell
Hot Peppers: Hungarian Hot Wax, Anaheim, Early Jalapeño
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