Last Tuesday I used the blog post to answer a few questions that readers had asked over the last couple of months. The response was very positive but I had no idea I would swamped by so many more questions! This was a surprise, a very welcome surprise as I love to answer these questions. I have decided to answer a few more today and again next week so if you have a question you would like answered just ask in the comments section and I will do my best to get you an answer. So let's get to some garden tech support!
When you are growing melons of any kind you can get poorly flavored finished products due to the weather being too cool or too humid. Since you are in Austin Texas I doubt that your weather was too cool! Most likely the problem developed because of watering issues – always be careful to water on a regular schedule so that you can maintain a constant level of soil moisture. Also always be sure to allow your melons to mature fully prior to picking them, the most flavor that they will develop will occur just as the melons reach their peak.
Mike G. of Canton, OH asks, “I have been told not to plant melons and cucumbers close to each other as they are in the same vegetable family and will cross pollinate and my melons will have a cucumber taste. Is this true?”
In a word, no. This is really an old wives’ tale, your melons and cucumbers will not cross pollinate and produce fruits with a cucumber taste. Even if that would happen it would not affect the taste of the fruit it would only affect seeds of this year’s crop of melons.
Again, in a word, no. many tests have confirmed that presence of the side suckers not only does not hinder production but actually improves the harvest!
Demetri J. of Allen, TX asks, “I know that corn is wind pollinated so I planted my row of corn in a rather breezy area of my garden but I still had poor results?”
Ok, your thinking is not bad. Corn is pollinated when pollen falls from the tassels down to the silk on each ear. You mentioned that you planted a row of corn, this could be the problem. For best results with corn plant your seed in a block pattern of 3 or 4 rows (see picture on the left) rather than in a single row, that way no matter which way the wind blows your corn will pollinate. A breezy area in which the wind blows in just one main direction could result in the pollen actually being blown away from the silks. Also it is a good practice, under calm wind conditions to go out to your corn and give each stalk a very gentle shake to assist in pollination.
Sandy N. of Oshkos, WI asks, “After I cut off the central head of my cauliflower, will it develop side shoots like broccoli does?”
Sorry, it will not develop any side shoots the way that broccoli will. There is a way to get the most out of your cauliflower that most folks overlook, just eat more than just the central head. Cauliflower florets are the part of the plant that most people eat. However, the stem and leaves are edible too and are especially good for adding to soup stocks. To cut cauliflower, first remove the outer leaves and then slice the florets at the base where they meet the stalks.
You most likely have goblins. Goblins are well known to cause wonky-rot! Not really, most likely your carrots got too much water the very end of their growing cycle, which caused the center of the carrot root to grow much faster than the outside could handle. Hold back on watering your carrots as your harvest nears and if rain is in the forecast you can pull them early or cover them with a plastic covered cage. Sometimes folks store their carrots in the ground – fair warning though, if you have large carrots stored this way and you get lots of Fall rain the carrots will split!