Edible Landscaping

August Q & A

Question: I have to admit my summer vegetable garden in South Dakota got away from me, and now there are 3-foot tall weeds everywhere. Should I give up and just get ready for next year?

Answer: It's not surprising you have so many weeds, considering the rainy spring weather, then the July heat wave. Even the most experienced gardener would be challenged under those conditions. But all may not be lost for this season. If you can weed out even a section of your garden now, you'll have a few more months of growing where you can plant a fall garden. Depending on the amount of time and energy you have, dig out the least weedy section of your vegetable garden, form a raised bed and amend the soil with a 1-inch thick layer of compost. In it, plant seeds of kale, spinach, lettuce, radishes, and beets for harvest in the fall. Cover the bed with a floating row cover to protect it from insect attacks and to keep it cool and moist. Keep the bed well watered and in a few days the plants will germinate due to the warm soil.

For the rest of the garden, mow it down. It's important not to let the weeds go to seed or you will have even more weed problems next year. Till the rest of the garden under in fall to add this organic matter to the soil.

Question: My Missouri garden has beautiful summer squash that are loaded with these grey bugs that seem to proliferate overnight. What are they and what should I do?

Answer: Squash bugs are what's bugging your squash. These gray or brown colored bugs start as bronze-colored eggs on the underside of squash leaves in early summer. The eggs hatch into nymphs that look like the adults, only smaller. They suck juices from the plant leaves, causing them to yellow, wilt, and eventually dry up.

To control squash bugs, search for and crush clusters of bronze-colored eggs about the time winter squash or pumpkins start to vine or run. Cover the young plants before flowering with a floating row cover to prevent the adults from laying eggs. To control the nymphs and adults, lay a board near the squash plant overnight. In the morning pick up the board and scrape the clusters of hiding bugs into a pail of soapy water. You can also spray insecticidal soap and pyrethrum on plants, but do so on cloudy days or in the evening when bees aren't active. Clean up all the plant debris well in fall to limit the population next year.

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