Try Variations on Pesto
Classic basil pesto, combining fresh basil, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, pine nuts, garlic, and salt, is one of the glories of the summer kitchen. Besides enjoying it this summer, be sure to put some in the freezer for this winter. Besides this classic version, experiment by substituting other herbs for no more than half of the basil. Parsley should be first on your list to try, but also consider mint, tarragon, cilantro, or arugula. For other variations, substitute almonds or walnuts for the pine nuts.
Make Plants Look Better
Heat, humidity, lack of rain, and natural attrition all contribute to flower beds and borders looking a bit bedraggled by now. Make them look better by keeping areas weeded, adding a fresh layer of mulch (being sure to loosen the existing mulch first), and trimming faded flowers from perennials. Cutting back annuals will stimulate new growth. Consider adding chrysanthemums and asters to plantings as they become available.
Adding colchicums is a sure-fire way to brighten the garden in late summer and fall. Resembling a giant crocus, colchicums bloom from dormant bulbs that are planted in August. The bulbs can be found at local garden centers or mail-ordered. Plant them in well-drained soil, with the base 5 inches below the soil surface. Depending on the species and varieties, colchicums have blooms in shades of mauve, violet-pink, and white.
Order Garlic and Shallots
Although garlic and shallots aren't planted until October and November, many gardeners like to plan ahead, either ordering their bulbs now or setting aside the biggest cloves from this year's harvest. When planning for garlic, remember that one pound of garlic bulbs equals approximately a 25-foot row with 4 inches of spacing between cloves. Expect a harvest of 5 to 10 pounds per pound planted.
Dive Into Summer's Bounty
Our own gardens and farmers' markets are reaching the peak of summer%%%s bounty. For the next two months include as many fresh vegetables and fruits as possible in all your meals. Besides fixing them as you do traditionally, experiment with new recipes and methods of preparing. If you don%%%t already know how, learn to freeze, can, and dry produce for enriching your meals during the rest of the year.