Lifestyle

Tomato ripening and the fall harvest | Mike Stanley

Finally, some “tomato ripening” hot weather arrived. And it should kick into high gear not only the ripening of the tomatoes, but peppers, cucumbers and sweet corn as well.

Nearly every day, a visitor to the community garden (where I hang out most mornings) will comment about the tomato plants that are 6 feet tall with green tomatoes. I have some just like that as well. Even Early Girls are late this year. However, I also have been picking ripe tomatoes off of our Stupice and Glacier varieties for the past two weeks. One of the issues that some gardeners have is in the selection of the variety of tomato they choose to grow. Unfortunately, we do not have enough warm days for an heirloom variety with a maturation time of 80 to 90 days to produce much of a harvest.

This is a great time to visit the Federal Way Senior Center's community garden because you can easily observe and compare the growth and maturity of our diverse variety of plants. We have tomatoes (11 varieties growing side by side), peppers (seven varieties), zucchini (four varieties), cucumbers (four varieties), and lettuce (five varieties). Although we do not grow a lot of fruit, we do have four varieties of strawberries (the tristars and alpine are producing now); our 30 dwarf blueberry bushes will be ready to pick beginning next week; our plum harvest is finished (six varieties); our pear harvest is finished (six varieties), and we have not begun the apple harvest (10 varieties).

I have planted 24 of our garden beds with new seedlings for our fall harvest. If you hurry, you can still plant a fall garden. We will begin harvesting the red head lettuce, bak choi and radishes by mid-September. Our other leaf lettuce varieties, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, beets, carrots, parsnips, mustard greens, scallions, collards and kohlrabi, will be ready beginning late September on into November.

Two weeks ago, my beekeeper friend John and I harvested 120 pounds of honey from the two beehives at the community garden. We will harvest another 60 to 80 pounds next week. This “liquid gold” will be available for a small donation at the Federal Way Community Garden “Catch the Bug” event on Aug. 26 from 5 to 8 p.m. at the garden.

I encourage you to come to the “Catch the Bug” garden event on Aug. 26. You will not only have a chance to tour the community garden, taste some great hors d'oeuvres and fine wines, but also to learn more about the vision the Federal Way Community Gardens Foundation has for building and operating multiple gardens throughout the Federal Way area. For more information, contact me or visit www.federalwaycommunitygarden.org.

Watch a video featuring the Federal Way Senior Center Community Garden:

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