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Proctor's Garden: What you should be doing in your vegetable gardens now

Even with the August heat, you can have a vegetable garden that flourishes.

DENVER — Most of our summer vegetables originated in tropical or subtropical climates. They thrive in hot weather as long as they're properly irrigated. Low humidity and wind can dry them out and scald the fruit. How often you need to water your vegetables depends on the weather and the type of soil you have. 

August is the month when vegetables start to produce prolifically. Tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, beans, squash, and cucumbers should be in high gear. If your vegetables are lagging, fertilize them. Avoid using a high nitrogen fertilizer because it will encourage more leaves and fewer fruits. At the base of the plants, scratch in a fertilizer formulated for vegetables with a higher ratio of phosphorous. 

There are two types of tomatoes: determinate and indeterminate. Determinate tomatoes flower, set fruit, and ripen all at the same time. When they're done, they're done. Indeterminate types continue to produce as long as the weather allows. It's important to know which type you planted.  

It's a myth that tomatoes will ripen quicker if you stop watering them. You'll just end up with dead plants and dried out fruit with the consistency of tomato paste. 

Pick beans, squash, and cucumbers as they ripen to keep them producing. Use strips of panty hose or foam-covered wire to tie vines such as cucumbers, melons or beans to their support structures. These won't cut into the stems. 

Keep beds weeded. Vegetables and weeds aren't compatible. They'll steal moisture and nutrients from the vegetables. Marigolds are good companions, attracting pollinators and repelling some bad insects. Basil also draws both native bees and honeybees. That's why I don't pinch off their blooms. 

Continued good care now will ensure that your vegetable garden flourishes and continues to produce well. 

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