Veggies…Start Your Engines
August 5th, 2006
The main jobs in the vegetable garden this month are harvesting, watering, and pest control. All summer vegetables can be planted now, especially the heat lovers, but most gardeners prefer to wait this month out and start planting winter crops in mid-September. Most vegetables gardens in interior zones get pretty well burned up by the end of August.
Start seeds for cool-season crops. By midmonth seeds can be started in flats or peat pots for bedding plants to put in the ground in fall. Keep them in semishade. Good candidates are celery and all members of the cabbage family, including broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussel sprouts. Home-grown transplants will be ready to put out in the garden in late September or October. If you need only a few it’s much less trouble to buy transplants at the nursery.
Unfortunately, the plants bought at the nursery are usually labeled generically rather than by variety. Learn about good varieties for your zone, and ask your local nursery to carry them as transplants. Shop with companies that grow “gourmet varieties.” They’re more expensive, but there’s a good reason: the seeds cost more. If enough gardeners become informed buyers bedding plant growers and nurseries will gladly give them what they want.
Control corn earworm. If your corn is badly attacked by corn earworm now and you’re not an organic gardener, try dusting the silks with Sevin. (Treat when the silks first emerge and continue to treat every three to five days until the silks turn brown.) Mineral oil on the silk has been tried with varying success by organic gardeners. If your corn is being rendered inedible by these pest, it could be that you are waiting too long to harvest the corn.
Corn needs lots of water while it’s forming ears. Once you’ve picked them cook the fresh corn no more than three minutes after the second boil.
Continue to harvest, and take stock for next year. This is the time of year when people who love to can and freeze are happily stashing away jars and bags of produce for winter use, and those of us who don’t are giving away armloads of vegetables and perhaps vowing to plant less next year. By now first-time gardeners have learned that you don’t need a whole row of zucchini to feed a family of four- three plants are plenty, but you never can plant enough corn- it goes fast.