No bugs........with Dr. Doug @ Shepherd Glen*
         No bugs........with Dr. Doug                                                                          @ Shepherd Glen*

For Midwestern home gardeners and naturalists, just for fun!                                                               All my observations, photos, musings etc. on this website are centered on our 10 acres (named Shepherd Glen) in Jackson County Missouri, but I have found that observations (and frustrations) in our area translate pretty well throughout the Midwest.



Vegetable Gardening notes

October 26, 2023


Reflections on Green Bean Harvest


We enjoy green (snap) beans so much, that I endeavor to be able to harvest them over a long period of time. I usually plant two different varieties (which change from year to year) and two sequential planting times. We live basically along the Missouri/Kansas border, so I glean information from both state extension services. My favorite guide is the Kansas Garden Guide (which is free on-line). They recommend the first planting in early May (my planting date: May 6) which I started harvesting in mid-July. The second planting is recommended in early July, but I plant about a month later than first planting (June 5; harvest starting July 26) since we go dry and Mother Nature waters better than I do.


We had a very successful season this year, with plenty to eat, freeze and share. The second planting routinely has more insect damage (and therefore more culls). Blue Lake 274 was our favorite for flavor and texture, but Tendergreen was very productive, but not as tasty. However, I think I tended to wait too long to harvest and they would likely have tasted better if harvested when shorter.



August 10, 2023


"Red Burgundy" Okra


Since we first moved to Missouri, we have been hooked on okra - pan or deep-fried is the best. I usually try to find transplants, so they can get started earlier, eventhough they may sit awhile until we get the scorching temperatures of summer (that they crave).


This year, however, transplants were no where to be found, so I had to default to starting them from seed in the garden - too late to get them started indoors. Not only that, I could only find seed of the red variety.  I have been very pleased with the beautiful deep crimson pods, with a side benefit of gorgeous yellow flowers that bees love. Oddly enough, when cooked (fried or on the grill) they lose their red color and return to the traditional green hue.


Lesson learned: if you want comfort in knowing you will have the desired plants and varieties for the vegetable garden, order seed and get them started indoors! 



July 10, 2023


Squash Bug Dilemma


The squash bug  is a common pest of all squash (including zucchini) and pumpkins. Plants that are flowering are the most vulnerable to squash bug feeding. Squash bugs suck the sap out of leaves with their piercing-sucking mouth parts, and can cause plants to wilt and die.


Adults emerge from their winter hiding places and lay bronze-colored eggs in neat rows between veins on the undersides of leaves. The nymphs hatching from eggs (see photo) are light gray/green, later turning brown with age.


Why do I have a dilemma? The question is whether to spray an insecticide or not! Squash bugs can be quite devastating if not controlled, and controlled when first found. Adults are diffcult to control. I know of several serious gardeners who have given up on growing zucchini because the vines die before producing due to squash bug damage. Insecticide treatments are required to manage them. However, it is difficult to keep the spray/dust treatments off the flowers. Bee pollination is critical for fruit development, and if bees are exposed to the insecticide, and bees may be affected.



July 9, 2023


Potato Fun!


I think I grow potatoes more for the fun of it than the end product. The last few years I have selected multi-colored, red, or white potato types, or a combination of them to plant.


The fun part is the digging! When the fork lifts the plant from the soil, you don’t know what you will find, and what they will look like. It’s like hunting for Easter eggs!

July 1, 2023


Days to Harvest


The first variety of green beans (Tendergreen) is ready to be picked, and right on time according to the label (i.e. 55 days to harvest). I often wondered what "days to harvest" really meant, so I asked a horticultural expert. Basically, it means that the seed producer, in test plots, takes an average over several seasons on the time (in days) it takes from planting the seed, to the first major harvest. This time will vary depending on the soil, weather and geographic location, but should be in the "ballpark" most years.


However, what about if you are using transplants, like with tomatoes, peppers, eggplant etc. What does "days to harvest" mean in this situation? Really all bets are off, and days to harvest are basically just an approximation for selection and comparison purposes versus time to harvest with other varieties.


Interesting enough, my second green bean variety (Blue Lake) has a three day longer DTH (58 days), and they are right on schedule and I will be picking green beans on a federal holiday!




June 10, 2023


Early garden vegetables are starting to come in...two kinds of leaf lettuce, onions and lots of sweet crunchy sugar snap peas. Shell peas and carrots should be next, but are not quite ready yet. We need a couple of good gentle rains to fill them out.






April 20, 2023


Not everyone enjoys asparagus, but we happen to be a couple that appreciates fresh asparagus just with butter or with a cream sauce. During the grilling season, we even enjoy grilling asparagus with just a little bit of olive olive.


Although the harvest doesn't seem the best this year, we have been harvesting for a couple of weeks now. It usually takes harvesting spears from two or three days for a meal for us.


The purple variety seems to do the best for us; I wish I had planted all purple asparagus. Interesting enough, the spears lose their color when grilled!



March 20, 2023


Although I didn't get them planted by St. Patrick's Day as recommended by folklore, I did plant a 15' row each of white (early) and red (late season) potato.


April 20, 2023


Update: It took exactly a month to see the potato shoots emerging. I had almost given up!


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