Garden Update September 3rd

With the recent rainy days, it is important to watch your water hungry vegetables carefully and harvest before splitting or cracking takes place. Tomatoes are especially prone to splitting when a large amount of rain falls over a number of days. Cucumbers, summer squash, watermelon and cantaloupe also take up rain water very quickly and in the case of cucumbers and summer squash, will grow very large overnight so remember to check for harvests frequently.

Insect issues this week include the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB). You will find these

predominately in the nymph stages and are being reported in most vegetable gardens. They tend to swarm a particular type of vegetable and then may suddenly take off for another type of crop. Specifically they may damage tomatoes, peppers, squash, cucumbers and green beans (they eat the blossoms) among the many fruits and vegetables they will attack. Trying to rid your garden of them requires patience and some old fashioned hard work. Handpicking them and dropping them into soapy water in the early morning is the best organic way to cut down on the populations in a small garden to save your produce but this must be done almost every day. Consider harvesting your tomatoes early and allowing them to ripen indoors out of the sun and picking other vegetables earlier and smaller to avoid some of the damage the stink bugs leave behind.

This time of year most gardeners are planning ahead to next year and a great garden task this week should include making sure you have a garden plan for this year on paper so next year you can rotate your vegetables and minimize pest and disease issues common to certain types of vegetables. This is also the time of year when gardeners take stock of the successes and failures of the garden and start to make note of what they will do different next year.

If you plan on growing garlic this fall it is time to get it ordered. Some seed companies may already be out of stock. Garlic typically goes in the garden in mid-October in this area. Examples of seed companies which carry garlic for the fall season are Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, Territorial Seed Company and Burpee to name a few. Order the garlic through their online seed catalogs or websites. You will need to plant garlic cloves according to growing instructions in a garden area which will not be disturbed until late next June. Remember to amend area first with a balanced organic fertilizer if garden area was used for another crop this year. After the first hard frosts this year lay straw 3-4 inches among the little green sprouts to keep garlic from the temperature swings of the fall and winter seasons. Keep evenly watered during dry months.

Enjoy the last days of summer keeping in mind another season always comes around next year if your season has been less than successful. Now is also a great time to order some of the gardening tools of the trade as many are being offered at discounts online this late in the season.