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Talking apples, pumpkins and tomatoes

August 13, 2009
By Stephanie Bethke-DeJaegher

The end of summer is sneaking up on us while we rush to take care of tomatoes, squash and some other plants in the garden that seem to just go crazy at this time of the year. My vegetable garden is right up there with others in that it seems that it is doing its best to finish up as fast as it can. Apples are coming along on some of the trees and I am continuously amazed at the large size of the apples from the trees that have been in a more protected spot, while another apple tree is truly a disaster from early apple damage from hail in June.

This particular apple tree is State Fair and they are just about ready to eat.

A little work in the garden right now will save you time, not only later in this growing season but also next year. The boys are put to work picking up apples under the trees that have fallen to the ground. Any that are edible are still put to use in apple sauce or apple juice which is truly the best compared to brand apple sauces and juice.

It is really important to keep up with picking fruit that is ripening almost, seemingly, right before our eyes. We complain about picnic beetles and the Asian lady beetles eating things up but they are only attracted to fruits and some vegetables that are first overripe or like my apples on my one tree, damaged.

The best bet to keep these guys under wraps is to keep any damaged apples, melons or berries picked when they are ripe and to get rid of any that have become damaged in anyway. Damaged fruit will also attract yellow jackets and sometimes bees as well

After the rainfall that some of us have had, it is particularly time to watch out for melons such as muskmelon and watermelons that will crack, and yes, sometimes explode-well at least look like they have exploded in the garden.

They go crazy and up take all of this water which doesn't leave a lot of time for the outside part of the melon to expand which equals cracked watermelons and exploding muskmelons. A cracked open melon is still good to eat as long as you get to it before the bugs do. You may see this in some pumpkins that have completed their lifecycle and are done growing in the garden.

This year the pumpkins that we are growing are of the general type except we are trying our hand at growing the Dill's Atlantic Giant which is providing some extra entertainment value just in the size of the vine itself while we wait to see just how big those pumpkins get.

They are sort of unusual in that they are sort of a washed out orange color right now in comparison to the Hawarden variety that we are also growing which is strictly green while growing. As my grandmother used to say, some pumpkins are really more like a squash that has been "put together" with a pumpkin, more than anything else.

Don't forget to make sure that any tomatoes that you have in the garden that have fallen from the vine are picked up and disposed of - which also helps to keep your garden under control next year for diseases.

Once you are done with your tomato plants, it is a wise choice to pull up the vines and remove them altogether from the garden to help ensure that many of the blights and other foliar diseases are not carried over into next year's crop.

For more information about gardening, you can email me at



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