Tomatoes, Peppers, and Okra Spring Garden Update

The garden got off to a late start this year. In March we received so much rain the seeds rotted in the ground. It seemed like every couple of days we were getting a cold front.

All of this means the 2018 spring garden is running a month behind. Instead of the peppers producing in May, they are producing in June. Which is no big deal because once the peppers start producing, they will continue until the first frost.

Jalapeno pepper plant with several peppers
Jalapeno pepper plant with several peppers

Instead of the okra being planted at the first of May, it was planted at the end of May. I was hoping to get some rain to help the okra germinate, but we did not get rain for a month.

Eventually, I decided to plant the okra and water the seeds with a sump pump that sits in a creek. Everything worked out and the seeds germinated. Once the okra started to come up, it is making solid progress.

Tomatoes and Tomato Cages

Some of the tomato cages I used were too small, and a couple of the tomato plants fell over. I knew this was going to happen.

Why did I let the tomatoes fall over?

To show people what can happen when they use small cages.

A couple of my tomato plants are getting close to 6 feet tall. There is just too much weight at the top of the cage.

The tomatoes that were directly into the ground are doing the best. The tomatoes planted in pots, then transplanted in the ground are doing the worst.

Tomato ready to be picked

There are two lessons learned so far:

  1. Plant the tomato plants directly to the soil.
  2. Use large cages, and push the the cages deep into the soil.

Next year I may drive some T-post in the ground, secure a section of cattle panel to the post, they tie the cages to the cattle panel. I may do something like tomatoes on one side of the cattle panel, and peppers on the other side.

Stink bugs are swarming the tomato plants.  However, I have been picking the tomatoes as soon as they start to turn red.

Peppers and Okra

The jalapeno peppers, cowhorn peppers and okra are doing well, and all of them were planted a month behind schedule.  If I remember right, the okra is Louisiana velvet.  The seeds have been in the freezer for close to six, maybe seven years.

Even though the peppers and okra were planted late, once they start producing, they will produce until winter arrives.  Several years ago I had some jalapeno pepper plants survive the mild winter. As a result, they produced for a year and a half.

Louisiana velvet okra plant

Okra is a hot weather crop that thrives in these southern hot summers. There is an old saying that goes something along the lines of, “The hotter it gets, the more okra will make.”

Okra is native to Africa, and it thrives in hot summers. As far as I know there is no exact knowledge of when okra was brought the United States. It is speculated seeds were brought over during the slave trade.

Okra has another 6 weeks or so before it starts producing. Okra takes around 60 days before it starts producing. Some of that is based on rainfall, heat, fertilizer.. etc. So let’s say two months.

The seeds have been in the ground for 2 – 3 weeks. So let’s say another 6 weeks or around the start of July before the okra starts producing.

Some of the cowhorn (chili peppers) got top heavy and fell over. I should have used a small cage to hold them upright.

Final Thoughts

The peas and beans were eaten by the deer and rabbits.  The deer also ate the squash leaves.  The only thing that will produce for the rest of the year is the peppers and okra.

I was very disappointed when the cowhorn peppers fell over.  Maybe I should have been more proactive and put cages around them.  It has been probably close to 30 years since I have grown cowhorn (chili) peppers.  Last time they did not need to cages and they were probably three feet tall by mid-summer.

When the jalapeno peppers start making at a good rate, I want to make some homemade hot sauce.  Hopefully, there will be enough okra to pickle.  I love pickled okra, that is some good stuff.