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The Coastal Gardener: Summer vegetables that love the heat

June 03, 2011|By Ron Vanderhoff

Harvest ronde de nice while still young and extra-tender, about 3 or 4 inches in diameter. Serve them gently steamed or sautéed with other vegetables in a medley of other summer vegetables. While sautéing, add a dash of butter and some chicken broth and chopped herbs for a delicious side dish.

Now is the time to get some cucumbers into the soil as well. Of all the cucumbers on the market the lemon cucumber may be the most interesting. Considered an heirloom variety, lemon cucumbers were originally brought to the United States in 1894.

Some experts say the seed originated in Australia, others believe it came from Russia. Either way, the round, baseball-sized fruit of lemon cucumbers are a soft yellow color with a delicious flavor. You'll almost never find them on the supermarket shelf or available as transplants, so you'll want to check the seed racks for these as well.

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A great summer salad can be made with lemon cucumbers. Combine sliced cucumbers, red onion, colorful home-grown tomatoes, sweet corn, some greens and some rice vinegar. Sprinkle with a little lemon thyme vinaigrette and you're ready for a great summer specialty.

Great taste is one of the biggest reasons to grow your own vegetables, and this is especially true with melons. The most flavorful melons are too fragile to ship and are absent from supermarkets.

But home gardeners willing to grow from seed have no limitations. The small French cantaloupes are at the top of the flavor charts and the most famous of all is a 1920s heirloom selection called Charentais (pronounced sha-rhan-tay).

Give melons the sunniest, warmest spot in your garden and a little room to sprawl. Then get ready for a flavor explosion when you cut your first melon open and scoop out the sweet, intensely-flavored flesh. Now that's what summer vegetable growing is all about.

RON VANDERHOFF is the nursery manager at Roger's Gardens, Corona del Mar.

Ask Ron

Question:

They're back! My rose leaves are getting eaten again by little worms. I'm seeing small spots on the foliage, just like the last couple of years. Remind me.

Kelly, Newport Beach

Answer:

Those little spots on your leaves are the larvae of a sawfly, sometimes called a rose slug. The larvae feed on the underside of the leaves and can be hard to see.

Small scratches and spots now will turn into larger holes as the season progresses. If you just have one or two roses you can probably search the leaves and flick them off with your fingers.

A brisk spray of water will also dislodge many of them. If you need a little more help, I suggest an organic, biological spray called Spinosad. It is available as a ready-to-use or as a concentrate.

ASK RON your toughest gardening questions, and the expert nursery staff at Roger's Gardens will come up with an answer. Please include your name, phone number and city, and limit queries to 30 words or fewer. E-mail stumpthegardener@rogersgardens.com, or write to Plant Talk at Roger's Gardens, 2301 San Joaquin Hills Road, Corona del Mar, CA 92625.

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