Mid-Atlantic

August, 2009
Regional Report

Look Out for Late Blight

Late blight of potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant is back. Infected plants and others nearby should be removed and destroyed. This disease, responsible for the Irish potato famine in the mid-nineteenth century and devastated U.S. crops in the early1840s, is caused by the fungus-like oomycete pathogen Phytophethora infestans. It can infect and destroy the leaves, stems, fruits, and tubers of potato and tomato plants. Fungicide treatment is only marginally effective. Signs: leaves, fruits, and stems die when they wilt after getting brown-to-gray spots that turn leathery looking.

Order Spring- and Summer-Blooming Bulbs Now

Chances are those beautiful, unusual daffodils and tulips that caught your eye in March and April tempted others as well. Order bulbs now for a better chance to get those unique cultivars you want. Suppliers will hold your order to ship with it's time to plant.

Plan a Leaf Pile

Look for or make a place to heap fallen leaves. Rather than put them out for municipal pickup, keep the nutrient-rich foliage for your own garden. Make a huge pile of them this fall so they compost through the winter. In a far corner, beside a fence, behind a large shrub.
Even if you don't shred them, come spring you'll have rich, humusy leaf mold at the bottom of the pile -- to use as a planting amendment. The leaf bits in the middle and on top are excellent to use a compost/mulch between spring/summer veggies, perennials, annuals and under shrubs and trees. Shredding fall leaves will make more humusy compost BUT it's not mandatory. Leaves will decompose either way -- faster or slower.

Plant More Crucifers

For fresh, late season veggies, plant cole crops -- broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, bok choy, collards, and kale now. They thrive in cooler temps. These members of the family Brassicaceae are veritable powerhouses of nutrition. They are low in calories, and high in vitamins A and C, fibers, enzymes, calcium and iron.

Empty Water Barrels

If you haven't been emptying water barrels every two, three weeks, now's the time. Opening the spigot and watering plants now will kill the mosquito larvae. You and your Labor Day guests will enjoy the holiday picnic without annoying skeeters to swat.

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Special Report - Garden to Table

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