Burnt out on summer? Start thinking fall – vegetables, that is. It seems like summer just started, but it’s time to begin work on the fall vegetable garden, too. Transplant seedlings for broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and celery. Indoors, plant seeds for leaf lettuce, chard, kohlrabi and other fall crops, to be transplanted later. Sow seeds for head lettuce, parsnips, rutabaga, beets and turnips directly in the ground. The warm soil will get them off to a fast start.
• Keep an eye on the summer vegetables, too. Harvest tomatoes, peppers, squash, eggplant, cucumbers and beans. (That prompts the plants to produce more!)
• As melons start to fully ripen, cut back on water. Too much water in the later stages of development can cause them to split.
• Clean up the summer flower garden. Remove spent flowers on daylilies, roses and other summer bloomers.
• After deadheading (removing flowers), fertilize roses to kick-start another bloom cycle; remember to give them a deep watering before feeding.
• Dig and divide overcrowded irises and bulbs after the foliage dies back.
• Pick caterpillars off tomatoes and other vegetables before they have time to do significant damage.
• Blast aphids off plants with a jet of water or squirt them with insecticidal soap. To make your own “bug soap,” add 1 tablespoon of liquid soap (such as Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Soap or Ivory dishwashing liquid) to 1 quart water. Put in a spray bottle and shake before using.
– Debbie Arrington