Observations in an August Garden

 ChiloquinNews article 8/29/2011

There are some wonderful vegetable gardens out there this year. I’ve been visiting friends and seen cabbage almost too big to pick up, lettuce that has still not bolted (mine bolted weeks ago), some great looking corn and even an artichoke that overwintered and is now producing delicious artichokes. I am not the world’s greatest vegetable gardener, yet even I have zucchini and cucumbers this year, and the beans are ready to pick, but my corn was a bust and the brussels sprouts don’t have any sprouts. The peas were prolific, but almost finished now. Interesting that in other gardens the peas were finished some time ago. I think it’s our many microclimates coming into play. All the tomato plants I’ve seen, including mine, are covered with green tomatoes, but they are not ripening. I think it’s because our nights are too cold, but I could be quite wrong.

 

Seaberries, ready to harvest

This year I’ve outdone myself with berries. My raspberry harvest is 25 lbs. and counting, blueberries are at 5 lbs. and just halfway through the harvest. I haven’t been counting the strawberries but they are just coming into the second flush, and as long as I can beat the raccoons to them (they are harder to fool than robins), there are many still to come. I got a small harvest of red, white and black currants this year, and my elderberry has set fruit for the first time, though whether it will ripen is another matter. The seaberry is on the calendar to be harvested in the cool of tomorrow morning. The Aronia and the gooseberry also have good crops of berries ripening. While out visiting I’ve seen a few raspberry plantings that are just not doing well. My only advice for that is to pile on the compost and flood them with water. Whatever water you are giving them now, at least double it, and see what happens next year. Also be careful to prune them properly. Only cut down the canes that have fruited. Don’t cut all the canes down.

It has not escaped my notice that the 3rd week of August freeze did not occur this year. That is certainly helping to make up for the late start we got with the long cold spring. Hopefully it will give the bees the chance to recover from their late start on the season also. My garden is literally humming with bumble bees now. Because it’s still warm, I’m putting off moving any plants, though I have a mile-long list of plants that I want to move or plant out from pots when the weather cools off a bit. I did plant a whole lot of Red Hot Poker divisions that I got for free. You can’t always choose the right timing when it’s a freebie, so I’ll just have to take care to water them every day and hope for the best.

native bee on a Shirley poppy

Aphids, earwigs and slugs are thriving this summer. I have a couple of trees (birch and oak) that are so thickly covered with aphids that the ground beneath them is sticky. I released lady bugs, which usually does the trick, but it hasn’t even made a dent in this aphid population. I don’t want to spray, even with insecticidal soap. There are too many beneficial insects in my garden now, to risk killing them too. I just hope the trees are healthy enough to survive the onslaught. Earwigs are everywhere and they are eating everything in sight. I even found a couple under my toaster, and one on my pillow. They come in with the vegetables, and in the raspberries. The leaves of some of my plants have been eaten completely with just the veins of the leaf left. Slugs stay in the cool moist places, like the base of the strawberry plants, where they often find luscious red strawberries to eat. If you see a silver trail, and new, tender leaves missing, blame it on the slugs. There is a safe control for slugs, iron phosphate, which just breaks down to become fertilizer, and doesn’t harm pets or kids. You just have to remember to sprinkle it about before your new seedlings disappear and then keep on sprinkling. There is a version of it that also contains spinosad, which is derived from a naturally occurring soil dwelling bacterium. This one will also kill earwigs. It’s on my shopping list.

 

 Along with the flowers, veggies, bees, wasps, ants, earwigs, slugs and aphids, I’m thoroughly enjoying this late summer weather in the garden. Hope you are too.

 

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