The weather has begun to cooperate by ripening our produce.
That wonderful spell of pleasant summer temperatures mixed with cool, rainy days has been washed from our memory by sweaty, 90-degree days.
The hot weather, though, is just what our green tomatoes need to ripen up. Peppers, eggplant and other warm-season crops also will begin to take on the colors for picking.
There are lots of reasons to be pleased we’re growing our own.
- Rains and floods earlier this year delayed planting and possibly contaminated fields, which likely will reduce the quantity and quality of produce coming to market.
- Salmonella-contaminated produce has sickened hundreds of people, prompting farmers to let crops rot in the fields or delay planting, reducing the amount of food coming to market.
- Rising fuel costs have boosted the price of transporting food.
With all that, I’ll gladly wait a couple extra weeks to sample my own tomatoes.
For those without a garden, these are good reasons to shop farmers markets or retailers that carry local produce. The produce is locally grown so it doesn’t have to travel hundreds of miles from the field to your table.
At the farmers markets, you can ask about the fields, making sure the crops were not contaminated by flood waters and safe for eating.
D.V.V. has “some Asiatic lilies that are blooming profusely right now. The only problem is that they are in the wrong place! When will be a good time to transplant them?”
Wait until after a hard frost this fall. Allow the foliage and stem to turn yellow or brown, called ripening, before digging and transplanting lilies (Lilium). The ripening process is needed to replenish the hardy, perennial bulb for next year’s flowers. When cutting lilies for indoor use, be sure to leave at least half of the stem attached to the bulb to ripen.
When ready, dig the bulbs, remove the stem and transplant to a sunny, well-drained spot. Water well. You can also transplant lilies in early spring. Dig them when their leafy crowns break ground.