The Garden Plot

Ray Baird

Thoughts of autumn and preparing for it – As you round up garden residue and haul it to the bin or pile for a new patch, you can also prepare rows in the summer garden spaces, rows of cool weather vegetables such as onion sets, Siberian kale, curly mustard, mixed greens, turnips, collards, cabbage and broccoli. Broccoli, cabbage plants and onion sets should be available in garden shops and hardware‘s as we get closer to the end of August.

Getting rid of pesky morning glory vines – A morning glory in bloom may have colors of purple, blue, and pink but they are a pest and plague of the garden. They seem to pop up between and among summer vegetables and produce their deceptive blooms. When you spot one in the garden plot, go ahead and trace it down to the root stem and pull it up because of flower can produce a seed pod with hundreds of tiny seeds and wreak havoc in next year‘s garden.

The waning of summer’s fireflies – As the dews of midsummer get heavier and fogs thicken each morning, it may be a signal for the slow diminish of the summer fireflies. We will miss their lemon colored glow. Every night we do a count to see how many we can count in a certain amount of time. As August begins, their number seem smaller each evening. We hope they produced plenty of eggs so there will be a large population next year. It seems that wet summers produce a greater number of fireflies.

The swan song for summer’s Dog Days – Next week, we will say goodbye to the Dog Days of summer. It is one of the initial signs of autumn over the horizon along with heavy dews each morning and as August moves along, the dews will get cooler and hang around until noon. Morning fogs will replace Dog Days and foretell of snows heavy or light months down the road toward winter as one season yields the stage to another.

Promoting cool off at the birdbaths – On hot midsummer afternoons, empty the water from the birdbaths and replenish with cool, fresh water. When there is not a thunderstorm around, the summer sun will dry up mud holes in puddles and make it more difficult for them to find water. A fresh source of water will attract all types of birds to your lawn.

A late summer gamble with a crop of green beans – With a little more than two and a half more months of warm temperatures and maybe even more, a row of green beans is worth a gamble. Most green beans have a maturity date of 55 to 60 days so this is plenty of time. With plenty of liquid fertilizer and a handy water wand for a drink of water every few days when it doesn’t rain, they should produce a late harvest. You can choose from many bush types that have plenty of time for a harvest. The varieties of Top Crop, Blue Lake Bush, Kentucky Wonder Bush, Derby, Strike, and Contender should do well in the late summer garden plot with good results.

The hammers in the month of August – There are still some midsummer flowers producing nectar but we do believe some of the hummingbirds get a certain amount of enjoyment coming to feeders to fight and chase each other for sport, fun, or just being ornery! No matter, what their reasons, keep feeders filled and let them play their mind games. Fill feeders only half-full to prevent waste and check on how much they consume in three days.

Zinnias are the gems of a summer day – Nothing is more colorful on a summer afternoon then a bed of zinnias. They are not only beautiful but attract swallowtails, monarchs and a host of other butterflies as well as Finches and other birds as summer rolls on. To prevent mildew on the foliage of zinnias, water the base of zinnias only because too much water is the cause of almost all mildew. Give them a shot of liquid fertilizer every 15 days to promote flower growth all the way into autumn.

Keeping up with the grass of late summer – With heavy dews and afternoon thundershowers, the grass of midsummer can get tough for you and the mower. Keep a sharp blade and sticky clippings from under the housing of the mower. Don’t mow grass that is wet with morning dew because it is sticky as well as wet. Wait until the sun dries the dew for a better cut and a neater lawn.

The end of Dog Days and hopefully the end of Japanese beetles – Next week will be the end of summer’s Dog Days and we hope also the last of this year’s Japanese beetles. There may be a few to bother the roses but hopefully most of them have phased their way out.

The four o’clock’s of summer still going strong – With daylight savings time in effect, they could be named five o’clocks because they usually bloom about that time of day. They could well be summers most lasting flowers with the blooms appearing in late April and continuing until October and the first frost. We have several that are perennial and come back year after year. Is this global warming or what?

Getting a turnip row ready – It is almost mid-August and time to get a row prepared for the row or bed of turnips. They are a root crop that needs a mid–August start to assure large yields of turnips. The best variety is Purple Top and they perform well in late autumn.

Ray Baird