Depending on how you look at life, whether you are a glass half-full or half-empty kind of person, this year’s growing season is in its final stretch. It’s what you do in that final stretch that is important. With approximately sixty to ninety days left to produce some home-grown nibbles, plan now for the last of those seasonable days. Let’s strategize to get the best results from your vegetable garden.
First, take good care of your current crop. Monitor daily and nurture what is already in the ground. If you head out of town this time of year for vacation, don’t assume your garden can be left on autopilot. Get a gardening buddy to help you out. Maintain good levels of nutrients and moisture and don’t take your eyes off the weeds. This time of year, weeds grow as aggressively as the vegetables. Keep weeds to a minimum; they compete with your crops for the much-needed nutrients and moisture.
If you have a tired row or patch, pull out what’s growing there, dress the area with compost and turn it over to prep for a rotated crop in this area. With 60-plus days of good growing to maximize, here is a list of vegetables and herbs to consider: lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, escarole, arugula, cilantro, basil, and beans. Look at your seed catalogs or contact a company like Johnny Selected Seeds. (Toll Free: 1-877-Johnnys (1-877-564-6697) Located in Maine, they understand the New England climate and current conditions.
When the humidity breaks and drying weather suddenly hits, don’t forget to take advantage of those days to dry your onions, garlic, early potatoes and herbs. Speaking of herbs, pesto comes to mind. Make as much as possible to freeze. If your basil plants or any of your herbs have gone to flower, cut them back to within 8 to 10”. Flowering makes the herbs bitter but with a quick hair-cut, you should produce a few sets of sweet leaves before the end of the growing season. You can make pesto from many herbs: mint, cilantro, dill. Think creatively and your garden can offer you wintertime bliss.
Vegetable Garden Strategies 101 – Never take a vacation during the growing season.
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© 2009 Ann St. Jean-Bilowz/Bilowz Associates Inc. (including all photographs, unless otherwise noted in Annie's Gardening Corner are the property of Bilowz Associates Inc. and shall not be reproduced in any manner nor are they to be assigned to any third party without the expressed written permission and consent of Bilowz Associates Inc.)