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Pulling Up, Throwing Away, Then starting all over



  It is really muggy to be working in the garden. The best time to do messy jobs is late in the afternoon and early in the morning. That’s what the insects know and that is when they are all over you - bugs and mosquitoes. Did you ever see so many biters? Mosquitoes, “no-see’ums,” Asian ladybugs, ants and those small black flies. I use repellent and I think it mostly repels me.

  It has to be done though. Pull up tomato and other plants that are no longer producing vegetables - peppers, beans and okra and weeds. If yours are still producing, then remove the weeds, fertilize, water and enjoy late production. I throw my old plants in a ditch in my woodland - that way the disease stays out of the compost pile and yet the plants decay and form good soil for trees and native shrubs. I try to never “trash” anything that can be recycled by man or nature.

  This is a great time to start your fall vegetable garden. First, you may want to try a late crop of squash or green beans. We may not have a real freeze until well into November. If you are tired of these, then go ahead and plant your “greens” - mustard, turnip (for greens and roots), spinach, lettuces and kale. In a few weeks, the garden centers will be stocked with plants of collards, cabbage and brocolli. As soon as you see the plants, it is time to begin planting, but I often wait until late September to begin my plantings of these plants - planting while the temperatures are high may cause them to “bolt” (bloom) too quickly, thus rendering the plant too bitter to eat. I have planted broccoli and collards in mid-November with successful results. Just watch the temperatures this year.

  Don’t plant your whole garden at one time. If you plant greens, lettuces, cabbages in weekly or bi-weekly plantings, you will not have to harvest them all at one time. Sequential planting is especially important with lettuces. Plant a variety of lettuces for a tastier salad. I love to grow Romaine - it is so tender and actually good for you - not like Iceburg (head) lettuce which has no food value to speak of. The small butter lettuces and Bibb lettuce are delightful to grow. If you enjoy Spring Mix, then try a packet of mixed lettuces of your choices. Plant a few feet of seed each week to ten days.

  For your tasty salad, don’t forget the radishes and carrots. I love the small round carrots. Mix the radish and carrot seeds together and sow them in the same row. The radishes will come up quickly and break the ground for the very slow carrots.

  Watch out for insects. Tiny beetles, loopers (caterpillars), stink bugs, aphids and all sorts of other critters are out there to get your plants before they lay their eggs for the winter. Keep a spray bottle of insecticidal soap, neem oil, and Thuricide (bacillus thurigiencis-Bt) for caterpillars handy and use at the first sight of bugs. Water your plants as needed. Sometimes when the temperatures begin to cool, we forget how dry it is; so spend some time in your garden. Again, mulching after a thorough watering helps the soil stay moist.

  Even if you are a “deck” gardener, plant some winter veggies - they are both tasty, attractive and easy to grow in containers.



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