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As you may know by now, my son Ben joined me in the business, earlier in the year.  Check out his cameo appearance on Global Morning news, National edition. Watch the video here.  
I think he did very well!

As a grad of agriculture (Ridgetown, University of Guelph) and with a genuine love for food, I turn to Ben for some mid-summer growing advice in my veggie garden.
Mark: Well Ben, what are you picking in your veggie garden now?
Ben: Kale, peppers, potatoes, carrots, onions and garlic are keeping us busy. Garlic is the one we can't get enough of - packaged garlic from the stores doesn't even compete with the flavour of fresh, home grown. You can also add garlic to just about any recipe.

Mark: Why is it important to pick 'fruiting' crops like peppers and tomatoes as they ripen?

Ben: For yield! Fruiting requires a lot of energy, and as long as the produce is on the plant it is drawing on a lot of the plant's resources.

Mark: What is the biggest challenge to growing extraordinary veggies this time of year? 

Ben: This year, we've had a wet summer where we are, so the most important thing for now is getting some heat for those hot crops to encourage fruiting and managing the insects and disease that are thriving in these conditions. Powdery mildew is taking hold on some squash and cucumber, which will be treated with Bordo copper spray and by watering from below, to avoid getting the leaves wet.

Mark: My pears always mature before I get to eat them.  Any advice?

Ben: Make sure you're keeping an eye on them! While it might not feel like it, things happen fast in the garden! Especially when we get a spell of warm weather - keep an eye on fruiting plants as they start to explode with their bounty.
Mark: If it gets dry enough that I have to water my tomatoes, what is the best way to do that? 

Ben: Go right to the base of the plant and water by hand, to avoid dampening the foliage. Wet leaves are a host for early blight, which is something you want to avoid as much as possible.

Mark: Should I fertilize my veggies this time of year?

Ben: Absolutely! They are busy putting out fruit and getting hungry - this is a perfect time of year to apply an organic granular fertilizer.

Mark: There are signs for when certain veggies are 'ready' - what are some of the most common? 

Ben: Onions are the drama queens - they will fall over when they are ready for harvest. Potatoes have a similar performance, and will collapse after blooming in a final, exasperated act before harvest. For carrots and beets, you will see the "shoulders" of the vegetable itself starting to appear above the surface of the soil, and peppers are ready quite simply when they look ready. It's okay to pick tomatoes a little before their peak, as they can ripen off the plant somewhat which will increase their shelf life.

Mark: Garlic, the most 'counter intuitive' veggie of all.  Well, it is really a herb.  I will dig mine next week.  Then what?  

Ben: For garlic to last through the winter until your next crop, dry them for 10 days in a cool, dry place such as a potting shed or garage before you bring them into the kitchen.

Mark: And finally Ben, what does your list of 'things to do in the food garden' look like right now? 
Ben: Knock down the weeds and remove 'spent plants'. Spent plants are those which are done fruiting or never really 'made it'. Getting them out of the way will make more space available for the healthier plants to produce and thrive, as well as improving airflow which can help reduce the risk of fungal diseases setting in (especially when it's wet). And of course - harvest! Now is the time to start enjoying the fruits of your labour.   

More To Do in the Veggie Garden

  Weeds are just competitors.  You can eliminate competitors (weeds) by pulling them, or better still, using your new Mark's Choice Back Hoe from Home Hardware.  You will discover the ease with which you can keep your garden weed free and lovely without bending over. 
Herbs.  Harvest and dry them in a cool place, out of direct sunshine.  Best to hang them where there is a breeze to help dry them without eliminating the essential oils in the leaves and stems: this is the stuff that gives them flavour.  
Keep them cool, dark and in air movement... my potting shed is a perfect location.

Build an Insect Hotel.  Last week, I spent a day in my meadow, building a new insect hotel, with help from Jessica. You can see the photos and read the story  here.

Annie is a family friend who seems to like our carrots!

Harvest Photo Contest

Is this your first year growing veggies?  Or your 20th year?  I would like to see a photo of your harvest.  Whether it's one tomato or a bushel basket, take a photo.

Email one photo of your harvest  to  for a chance to win.

I will post all photos on   my Facebook page .  The photo with the most likes will win a $50 gift card for Home Hardware and a few packs of Mark's Choice veggie seeds.

Deadline for entry: August 21, 2017.
Deadline for voting is August 28, 2017.

Enter today!
Contest Winner

In the mid-July issue of Food Gardening with Mark, I invited you to share your favourite recipe featuring kale.  Thank you to all who entered their recipes. 

Congratulations to the winner, Linda Row, who will receive a $50 Home Hardware gift card + Mark's Choice veggie seeds.