It’s the time of year when a lot of the work in the garden is either pinching or picking. To increase production, plants need to be pinched. To maintain continuous production, other plants need to picked regularly. The practice of pinching sends the energy to the fruit, increasing the likelyhood of nice, big, ripe fruit and vegetables. Our tomatoes have been especially needy in the pinching department as they struggle to produce ripe fruit amidst a short growing season and the constant threat of blight.
Tomatoes – Tomatoes can be pinched in a couple of ways. (1) Once flowering starts, pinch the tops to stunt growth and send energy to fruit production. (2) Especially in wet climates, pinch the lower leaves to prevent the onset of blight. (3) Once fruit production begins in earnest, thin out leaves to send energy to the fruit and to allow the sun to reach and ripen the fruit.
Squash & Pumpkins – If size matters, pinch all but a few flowers to get big, lovely pumpkins and other squashes. If space matters, trim back the vines, unless you’ve trained them up. Squash flowers are edible and make a nice colourful addition to salad.
Strawberry – Trim back those runners! Strawberry plants should be replaced about every four years. Unless it’s replacement time, trim back the runners to direct the energy to the plant, and to allow enough space for the existing plants to produce well.
Peas – Peas require continual picking to keep up their production. In August, the novelty of the peas can wear off as other vegetables come into season. Don’t let the peas become the neglected plant in the corner. Continued love will be rewarded with long lasting production and fresh peas for salad, stews and pesto well into the summer.
Brocoli – Quick, before it flowers! Any remaining brocoli needs to be picked now before it flowers. Leave the plants for a second set of heads ready for harvest later in the fall.
Leafy Greens – Picking a few leaves from each head of lettuce and from the kale, chard, and spinach is key to preventing to bolting and to enjoying fresh sweet salads all summer long.