Mid-Atlantic

July, 2010
Regional Report

Ask Questions at Your Local Farmers' Market

These day's farmers' markets can be as much about information and relationships as about fruits and vegetables. Chat with your favorite vendors. Where is their farm? How did they get those green beans to mature so early? How do they control insects? What are clues to selecting a tasty melon? How do you prepare kohlrabi? Why are their strawberries small but so delicious? Best time to talk is when the lines are short.

Enjoy Gardens, Tours, Classes

Friend Toni Ann invited me to Chanticleer Garden recently, to simply enjoy its evening beauty, scents, spectacle, surprises, serenity. Walking toward the swirling grasses and bubbling creek, I felt a weight lift from my shoulders. My breathing eased. My spirit lightened. Aah. A glorious garden to appreciate... that I don't have to weed or tidy. Treat yourself to a botanical holiday.

Plant Second Wave of Veggies and Flowers

Want more fresh bush beans, summer squash, cauliflower, broccoli, cucumbers, okra, bok choy, along with more cosmos, zinnia, amaranth and celosia blossoms? Extend your harvest by succession planting - that is, staggered planting with about three weeks between seed sowings. Be aware. All will take longer to mature and ripen though, due to decreasing daylight after the summer solstice.

Harvest Some Young and Tender Veggies

Summer squash, cucumbers, and eggplant are tastier and tender when picked small and immature. That is, this side of ripe. They'll ripen quickly, becoming tough and less flavorful in a matter of days. So check their progress daily and harvest young.

Remove Plants with Tomato Blight

Unfortunately the tomato blight that surprised us last autumn - when leaves and stems turned brown/black and fruits rotted on the vine - is back. This blight is caused by the fungus-like pathogen Phytophthora infestans, which will show as fuzzy, white areas on leaves and stems. Also known as the late blight, this Phytophthora caused the Irish potato famine. The blight has been reported in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Louisiana, Kentucky, Canada, and England. Tomato blight spores travel easily and far. It's important to control the spread. Remove infested leaves and stems as soon as you see them. Bag tightly and dispose of as landfill waste. Sterilize tools that have touched infested material by cleaning blades and handles with isopropyl alcohol or chlorine bleach. Machine-wash exposed garden gloves.

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