Pecan is the State Tree of Texas. Bluebonnet is the State Flower of Texas. Less natively, jalapeno pepper, Capsicum annuum, is the State Pepper of Texas. It is naturalized there from Central and South America. Jalapeno pepper is merely one of countless varieties of the species though. Furthermore, it comprises several and various culinary subvarieties.
Jalapeno pepper typically grows as a warm season annual vegetable. It has potential to be perennial. Overwintering is likely more work than annual replacement though. Mature plants can grow almost three feet tall. They may produce nearly two dozen fruits through summer. They crave sunny and warm exposure, rather rich soil, and consistent watering.
Mature fruits, or jalapeno chile peppers, are firm and crisp. They should be between two and four inches long, and as wide as an inch and a half. Their smooth and glossy skin is deep green, but can ripen to red, orange or rarely yellow. Red fruit is preferable for some culinary application. Jalapeno pepper may be the most familiar of the ‘hot’ chile peppers.
Almost all corn that grows in home gardens is sweet corn (Zea mays convar. saccharata var. rugosa). It is among the most popular of the warm season vegetable plants. Popcorn remains uncommon for home gardening. Other types of corn are mostly grains and other agricultural commodities that are rare within home gardens. Some corn becomes biofuel.
Corn stalks can grow as high as twelve feet! Most popular varieties grow only about half as high. Each stalk should produce one or perhaps two ears of corn. Each ear produces many kernels of corn in very neat formation on a central cob, all within a tight foliar husk. Male blooms protrude from the tops of stalks like antennae. Foliage is coarse but grassy. Stalks resemble giant reed, except smaller.
Of the various warm season vegetable plants, corn is one of the more consumptive sorts. It occupies significant area. It requires methodical and generous irrigation. Also, it craves rich soil, but depletes nutrients. Corn grows best from seed sown directly into the garden. Squared orientation, rather than typical rows, improves pollination and ear development.
Warm season vegetables, or summer vegetables, can occupy a garden systematically. A few lingering cool season vegetables may continue production for a while. Warm season vegetable plants can replace them as they finish. Several warm season vegetable plants should start as early as possible. Others grow in a few later phases through their season.
For example, indeterminate tomato plants are productive throughout their entire season. They can start as soon as convenient. However, determinate tomato plants produce only for two weeks or so. After their initial phase of a single plant or a few, subsequent phases can start about every two weeks. Each phase continues production after its predecessor.
Bush bean and several varieties of eggplant and pepper also produce for brief seasons. Okra and cucumber might produce for most of summer. Secondary phases may increase their production as well though. Of all warm season vegetable plants, corn benefits most from phasing. Each phase tends to mature so uniformly that it finishes within a few days.
Pole bean, squash, some cucumber and Indeterminate tomatoes need no phasing. Such warm season vegetable plants perform from spring planting until frost. Winter squash are warm season vegetable plants, but their fruit finishes for autumn. Indeterminate tomatoes are less profuse than determinate types. Cumulatively though, they are more productive.
It will soon be time to sow seed for corn, beans, root vegetables and most greens directly into garden soil. Seedlings for these warm season vegetable plants are not conducive to transplant. Besides, too many are needed. Cucumber and squash grow either from seed or small nursery seedlings. Only a few plants are needed, and they transplant efficiently.
For the same reasons, tomato, pepper and eggplant can grow from seedlings rather than seed. Moreover, since they are so vulnerable as they germinate and begin to grow, seed is less practical than seedlings. Varieties that are unavailable at nurseries can grow from seed in flats inside or in a greenhouse. Ideally, they should have started early enough for transplant into a garden during appropriate weather.
Like most warm season vegetables, tomatoes, Solanum lycopersicum, are actually seed bearing fruit. They are both the most diverse and the most popular home grown produce. Grape tomatoes are smaller than little grapes. ‘Beefsteak’ can get wider than five inches. Although mostly red, some are yellow, orange, pink, green, brown, purple or pallid white.
The most popular varieties of tomato for home gardens are indeterminate. They produce fruit sporadically throughout the season, on irregularly sprawling stems. Tomato cages or stakes support their growth. Shrubbier determinate varieties seem to be more productive only because all of their fruit develops within a brief season. They work well for canning.
Small tomato plants in cell packs and four inch pots, which are available from nurseries, should grow efficiently in the garden as the weather warms through spring. Varieties that are unavailable as small plants can grow from seed in cold frames through late winter, to be ready for the garden after last frost. Directly sown seed can be vulnerable to mollusks.
Warm season annuals for next spring and summer are already replacing the cool season annuals that bloomed so dutifully since last autumn. As this happens, it is also getting to be about time for warm season vegetables to replace cool season vegetables. Strangely continuous warm daytime weather since December accelerated this process somewhat.
Removal of cool season vegetables that are still productive is as unpleasant as removal of cool season annuals that are still blooming. Fortunately, most cool season vegetables are finished by now, or will be soon. Few linger into warm weather as some cool season annuals might. Regardless, warm season vegetables will need their garden space soon.
Unlike most cool season vegetables, which actually are vegetative, the majority of warm season vegetables are actually fruits. The plants that produce them generally continue to bloom and produce more fruits throughout their respective seasons. Some, such as bush bean and determinate tomato, exhibit brief seasons. Many produce continually until frost.
Therefore, indeterminate tomato, pole bean, squash, cucumber, many varieties of pepper and some varieties of eggplant need no replacement within the same season. Cucumber can get tired enough by early summer to justify replacement in midsummer though. Okra, as well as several varieties of eggplant and pepper, produce for relatively brief seasons.
Phasing prolongs production of warm season vegetables that produce only once or only for a brief season. For example, corn that matures so uniformly that it is ready for harvest simultaneously lasts only a few weeks in a garden. Phases for seeding that repeat every two weeks or so develop in two week cycles. As the first phase finishes, the next begins.
Because so many individual plants are desired, and the seedlings do not transplant well, corn seed prefers direct sowing into the garden. So does seed for bean, root vegetables, and most greens. For tomato, pepper and eggplant, and perhaps cucumber and squash, small plants transplant well, and are not numerous enough in a garden to be expensive. Warm season vegetables grow slowly during cool weather, but accelerate as the weather warms.
It always seems that by the time the garden gets as productive as it can, it is already time to get ready for the next season. Pretty soon, cool season annuals will be arriving in nurseries to replace warm season annuals that had been so colorful all summer. If seeds are to be collected from summer flowers for next year, this would be a good time to do it.
Seed for certain cool season vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and kale, can be sown in flats or cell packs now to have seedlings ready to put out into the garden as warm season vegetables finish in autumn. If there is space available in the garden, turnips, turnip greens and beets can be sown directly. Carrots should probably wait a few weeks or so to get sown directly.
Although corn of a single variety sown in a single phase tends to ripen at the same time, different varieties planted in different phases can extend the season significantly. Those that continue to produce until autumn are greedy for nutrients and water. Squash and tomatoes likewise appreciate a bit of fertilizer and regular watering, even as the weather starts to fluctuate this late in summer. However, fertilizer does not need to be applied in the last month of expected production.
Zucchini should be harvested when they get about six inches long, not only because they are best when immature, but also because the plants are more productive if regularly deprived of their fruit. If plants have the choice, they prefer to concentrate resources into fewer large fruit instead of more small fruit. The problem is that the larger fruit is tough and lacks flavor.
Hubbard, butternut, acorn and other winter squash get the opposite treatment. Each vine should produce only a few fruits. Those that produce smaller fruits can sustain more than those that produce larger fruits. Yet, excessive fruit exhausts resources, which compromises fruit quality. The fruit that will continue to grow and ripen through autumn should already be somewhat developed. The smallest of excessive fruit, or underdeveloped fruit should be removed.
Cool season (or winter) vegetables are now finishing their season. Some continue to produce later than others. Eventually though, they all succumb to warming spring weather. As they do so, they relinquish their space to warm season (or summer) vegetables. Many warm season vegetables want to start growing as soon as possible. Later phases must wait for space to become available.
Later phases are no problem. They actually prolong the season for plants that are productive for only a brief season. For example, if sown at the same time, corn seed germinates and grows into stalks that produce all their corn at the same time. If sown in small groups every two weeks or so, corn seed grows into groups of stalks that produce corn every two weeks or so. That is ‘phasing’.
Phasing is more common with the cool season vegetable plants. Most of them are true vegetables, rather than fruits that are classified as vegetables. Individual plants produce only once, and can not produce again after harvest. Conversely, most warm season vegetables are actually fruits. (They contain seed.) Many of the plants that produce them continue to produce after harvest begins.
For example, squash, pole bean and indeterminate tomato plants that start growing in spring can continue to produce until frost. (Determinate tomatoes and bush beans have shorter seasons, so can benefit from phasing.) Cucumber vines can produce until frost, but might get shabby enough (from aridity) for replacement halfway through their season. Pepper and eggplant thrive in warmth.
The various greens and the various root vegetables, which are truly vegetative rather than fruiting vegetables, should grow in phases.
Seed for corn, bean, root vegetables and most greens should go directly into the garden. Seedlings do not transplant well, and are expensive in sufficient quantity. Romaine and head lettuces are exceptions that produce well from seedlings. Tomato, pepper, eggplant, cucumber and squash seedlings transplant easily. If only a few are required, they are not much more expensive than seed.
The vine grew very quickly! It is hard to say if it got water from a leaking pipe. A valve manifold that is visible in front of the stump in the original picture is completely obscured by the foliage of the vine in the second picture. With all the heavy work that was done right on that spot, it would have been very easy for a pipe or exposed valve to get damaged. (Water from a previously leaky pipe or valve could have contributed to the demise of the tree, by promoting the development of excessively heavy foliage that caused…
Is it a winter vegetable or a summer vegetable? Technically, like many vegetables, cucumber, Cucumis sativus, is actually a fruit. It dislikes the locally arid warmth of summer, but also is intolerant of winter frost. It performs best through spring and autumn. Seedlings grown as winter ends should be ready for transplant after the last frost. Vines grown now produce a bit more before first frost.
However, in some gardens, some varieties of cucumber can remain productive all summer. Discolored older foliage is more unsightly than detrimental. Newer growth cascading from above might obscure some of it. Vines can climb trellises or over shrubbery. If vines sprawl over soil, the fruit will stay cleaner if set on leaves or newspaper. Regular harvesting promotes continued production.
Most cucumbers are classified as slicing, pickling or seedless cucumbers. There are many varieties within each classification. The most popular are only a few inches long, and harvested before maturity. The largest cucumbers are as long as two feet, and as wide as four inches! Hot weather unfortunately causes cucumbers to be bitter. Rich soil and regular irrigation promote better flavor.
Summer is for warm season vegetables like tomatoes, beans, corn, okra, and of course, summer squash. The name says it all. Summer squash are the sort of squash that develop and are ready for harvest through summertime. The season continues until the plants succumb to cooling autumn weather. The abundant squash fruits are best while young and tender, before they actually ripen.
Related winter squash grow through summer too. However, they ripen completely through the growing season before harvest in autumn. By the time they are ripe, their foliage will be succumbing to frost. They are much less perishable than summer squash are, so last for months if stored properly. Instead of producing abundant small fruits, winter squash plants produce only a few big fruits.
Summer squash plants can produce big fruits too, but at the expense of preferred tender juvenile fruits. They simply will not divert resources to new small fruits while concentrating their effort into a big fruit full of viable seed. After all, seed production is their priority. Regular harvest of juvenile fruits actually stimulates the production of more fruits. It forces the plants to redirect their resources.
There is certainly nothing wrong with summer squash fruits that have matured a bit more than they should. Stuffed zucchini is merely medium sized zucchini sliced in half lengthwise, hollowed out, stuffed and baked. Some people actually prefer to leave the last summer squash fruits of the season out in the garden to get as big as they can before frost. Such fruits are tough, but not too bad.
Common zucchini and its varieties are the most poplar of the summer squash. They are generally the most reliable and most productive. Crookneck squash are likely the second most popular of summer squash locally. They are slightly less productive, but provide variation of flavor. Pattypan squash have good flavor, and a slightly firmer texture that is an advantage for soups and freezing.
Other interesting varieties of summer squash are too numerous to list. Each exhibits its own distinct characteristics.