Pacific Northwest

July, 2009
Regional Report

Stake Tall Plants

Install supports around tall plants such as hollyhocks to help keep them upright during late-season wind and rainstorms. Slender reed or bamboo stakes long enough to reach up three-quarters of the plant's height work well. Put three or four stakes in the ground and weave supporting twine between them, starting about a foot above the ground.

Prevent Cucumber Bitterness

Cucumbers develop a bitter taste if the soil is not kept consistently moist. Harvest cucumbers for pickling whole when they are 2 to 4 inches long. Harvest for table use, when they're longer than 5 inches. Remove any overripe cucumbers to encourage continuous production.

Plant More Veggies

As you harvest your vegetables, you can make successive plantings to keep your garden productive for several more months. Vegetables such as beets, beans, leaf lettuces, radishes, and carrots can be planted in mid- to late-August for harvest in this fall.

Eradicate Weeds

Even though gardens are usually well established by midsummer, weeds will continue to sprout and compete with garden plantings for water and nutrients. It's important to remove this weedy competition, and hand pulling is my favorite method. Other means of controlling weeds include using mulches, both organic and non-organic. For example, a 1-inch layer of bark dust or sawdust will deter most annual weeds. A mulch of newspaper -- five sheets thick -- covered with bark dust, clean straw, or compost, will help control weeds and conserve soil moisture.

Build a Wasp Trap

Although wasps are beneficial in the garden, they can be real pests at picnics. Here's a wasp trap to build. Use an old jar with a screw top lid, drill a 1/2-inch hole in the center of the lid and two smaller holes near the edges for string to hang the trap. A 3-foot-long piece of yarn or string poked through the outside and knotted on the inside of the lid makes a good hanger. Bait the trap with raw hamburger, screw the top on tightly, and hang it from a tree branch at least 20 feet away from your picnic site. The hole in the top allows insects to enter, but it's difficult for them to escape. At the end of the day, unscrew the lid and allow the wasps to fly away.

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