Texas has been in a harsh drought this summer and has continued into the fall. Although you “could” have planted a winter garden, the heat and drought made that a little difficult this year. If you use your water hose and water well every other day, and use either dried molasses or another favorite organic fertilizer, your left-over summer plants should continue to thrive and bear fruits until the weather gets a bit too cold for them and they play out their time.
It was no surprise that my okra plants would keep producing, but they have really outdone themselves this year! This is the second season I planted emerald okra and it has done 3 or 4 times better this year. I have 3 okra plants that are about 6 feet tall! They are continually putting out new leaves with several flowers appearing and more okra. In the past I would harvest mostly from the top of the plant and a little from the sides, but not the insides and not the lower areas of the plant. Now, I am missing a lot of these okra because they are sprouting up in all kinds of places on the plant and the leaves make it a hide and seek game every time you go to harvest! I will miss a few every time, even though I walk around the same areas several times to look. By the time I see the ones I missed, they are probably 10 inches long! Too large to eat. Now they are hard shelled and ready to seed. These plants are producing about a pound of okra per day now, but I expect with the cooler weather coming up soon it will finally stop. The biggest surprise I found in the garden was a lone green bell pepper plant! It caught me completely off guard. By the time I noticed it was probably 6″ tall and 12″ wide with a nice stem and lots of budding flowers telling me that soon I would be seeing bell peppers. Well, about 10 days went by and I looked at the plant again and sure enough there was a full-grown bell pepper, luscious dark green color and shiny with no flaws! There are about 10 others budding. This is quite a surprise considering I pulled up all the pepper plants early in June or so because I had an attack of beetles. So, this one lone pepper plant came up from seed but didn’t start budding (likely) until after the cucumbers had played out at the end of July! So, I learned something. Bell Peppers like a cooler season to fruit, warmer season to grow from seed. It was in the hundreds in August, so this worked well for the pepper seed followed by a cooler September in the 80’s. Since this time I crushed up some egg shells and put those all around the garden to help the plants that will be growing have a good supply of calcium – which enhances their fruiting! Last, I have one lone carrot plant that came up between my okra plants. A leftover seed from the other carrots that were harvested a month or so earlier. Carrots are a good thing to grow in the winter if you plant them in time! Needs to be July or August for the winter garden.
By the way, those beautiful bumble bees are still fluttering about enjoying the garden. I also see my garden friendly frogs in the cool evenings, looking up at the moon. They really love cool fall nights. I got a full appreciation for the frog when I saw how difficult it was for the little tadpoles to survive. That’s another story. Stay tuned!