Watch for Late Blight on Tomatoes and Potatoes
Late blight has been confirmed in Connecticut and Massachusetts, so all gardeners growing tomatoes and potatoes in our region should be on the lookout for this fungal disease that caused so much damage last year. For information and photos to help you identify and control this blight, visit http://www.ladybug.uconn.edu/documents/late_blight_of_tomato_and_potato_in_connecticut_2010_06-17-10.pdf.
Control the Oak Twig Pruner
Clusters of branches with dried, brown leaves hanging in oak trees or littering the ground below them are the work of an insect called the oak twig pruner. Just as the leaves on the tree are forming in spring, the adult beetle lays its eggs on the tips of branches. The larvae that hatch out bore into the twigs to feed until the following summer, killing the branch tips and causing them to break off in the wind beginning in midsummer and continuing into the fall. The larvae overwinter inside these dead branches, so to reduce damage in following seasons, pick up and destroy as many downed branches as you can.
Plant Chinese Cabbage
Now is the time to plant seeds of Chinese cabbage to mature in the cool fall weather. Plant directly in the garden or start indoors in peat pots, transplanting pot and all to the garden in mid-August. Give transplants and young seedlings a feeding of fish emulsion to get them off to a strong start; repeat at two week intervals. Mulch well and keep plants well watered; stressed plants will taste bitter. Floating row covers will help keep out pests.
Check if Garlic is Ready to Harvest
When the lower half of the leaves on your garlic plants begin to turn yellow, pull up a couple of plants and cut through the head sideways. If the cloves fill their papery wrappers well, it's time to begin harvesting. If the wrappers are still a little loose, let the garlic grow a while longer. Don't be concerned about discoloration of the outer wrapper of the garlic bulb; it's a normal part of the maturation process.
Plant Seeds of Perennials for Bloom Next Year
Plant seeds of perennials such as columbine, phlox, primrose, bachelor's buttons and Shasta daisies now for bloom next summer. Plant seeds of biennials such as foxglove, sweet William, Canterbury bells and hollyhocks for next year bloom as well. Start seeds in containers and overwinter in a cold frame or sow directly in a nursery bed. Protect young plants with mulch over the winter, then move plants to their permanent locations in the spring.