Each vegetable gardening season is different. My spring crops turned out great. My tomatoes and beans have been plentiful. Sweet corn was pest free without trying. The sweet potatoes were decent. My melon crops had a down year for me.

The season is likely to end here soon for my crops. My goal was to harvest everything this year. I did well for a while. I quit on the cucumbers when I couldn’t give them away anymore. Tomatoes filled the freezer and the office, and several haven’t made it off the vine.

My tomato plants are still growing. They started looking bad but have perked up. There are blooms on them along with fruit. Perhaps, fried green tomatoes are in my future.

Tomatoes will ripen off the vine but must reach a certain phase of maturity called the “mature green stage.” Look for full-sized tomatoes with a white, star-shaped zone on the bottom end of the green fruit. These are the ones to harvest before the frost.

Storage temperature and the amount of ethylene gas determines the rate of ripening. Keep the tomatoes above 55 degrees for their usability. A higher temperature will allow for sooner ripening.

Wrapping the tomato in newspaper will trap the natural ethylene gas which will hasten ripening.

Peppers can be harvested at any stage prior to frost. Fresh peppers can keep in a crisper drawer of a refrigerator for several weeks if kept moist but not wet.

For longer storage, freezing works well. Though mushy when thawed, the flavor still comes through in cooked foods. Try dicing them into small pieces and then freezing on a cookie sheet. The frozen pieces can then be poured into a plastic bag for later use.

Measuring is much easier as the pieces are not frozen together in a clump. This methods works equally well for hot peppers, but be sure to wear gloves when handling.

You can find out more information on this and other horticulture topics by going to the Riley County, K-State Research and Extension website at www.riley.ksu.edu. Gregg may be contacted by calling 785-537-6350 or stopping by 110 Courthouse Plaza in Manhattan or e-mail: geyeston@ksu.edu.

Recommended for you