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August 12, 2013

Gardens peak in early August

(Continued)

As with any pesticide, organic or conventional, read the entire label and follow the directions exactly.

FINICKY CUCUMBERS

My cucumbers are producing at full speed now and are piling up on our kitchen counter. If you can’t eat them right away, they will keep for just a few days in a plastic bag in the refrigerator, but not much longer than that. I’m trying out various refrigerator pickle recipes this week in an effort to find more ways to keep them longer.

Cucumbers can be finicky plants, so don’t despair if yours have already faded. Cucumber beetles — those slender yellow-and-black-striped bugs — spread bacterial wilt, and powdery mildew can be a problem as well.

Next year, look for varieties of cucumbers and squash that are powdery mildew resistant. Read the descriptions carefully; if a variety is resistant, it will say so. 

If no mention is made, it’s probably susceptible. New varieties come out every year so the list is constantly changing.

TENDER, MEATY KALE

I’m growing kale for the first time this year, and I enjoy its resiliency. Instead of the familiar super-curly type or the flat-leaved Red Russian type, I’m growing Toscano, which is described as a dinosaur or lacinato type. 

I used to think it was ugly, with its long, narrow, very dark green leaves. But those leaves are more tender and meaty, and I’ve come to love it. 

To harvest any kind of kale, it’s easiest to just pull off the lower leaves. Keep harvesting up the stem and compost any leaves that have yellowed or been damaged. 

You’ll end up with rather odd looking tree-like plants, but they’ll keep producing through the fall. They actually get sweeter after being frosted, so this is a crop you can plant once and get a summer through fall harvest.

Amy Ivy is executive director of Cornell Cooperative Extension, Clinton County. Office phone numbers: Clinton County, 561-7450; Essex County, 962-4810; Franklin County, 483-7403. Website: www.cce.cornell.edu/ecgardening. Email questions to askMG@cornell.edu.

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