WEDNESDAY WALKABOUTS IN THE GARDEN
During July the Wednesday Walkabouts have focused more on wildlife than on plants! Last week, for instance, we observed a lovely pale green grasshopper, a ladybug, cucumber beetles, and, oh yes, that crazy rabbit! While the damage didn’t seem too significant last week, the email traffic containing rabbit complaints has really picked up this week.
Rabbits like to garden too – and they are much better harvesters than we are! Fencing and organic repellants are really the only alternatives available to us. Not only that, but we have to be constantly on alert since whatever we do, the rabbits will have a countermove ready to implement. It’s war out there! So my only advice is to protect your new rows of lettuce, beans, or (soon) peas with chicken wire or find a natural repellant that can be used on vegetables – read the label carefully. Then pray for predators.
We also observed plenty of fungal diseases taking hold in the garden. Nothing surprising there considering the wet weather we’ve experienced. Remember that watering at soil level (not sprinkling) is better since the diseases are in the soil. Splashing the water onto the soil and up to the plant really spreads the spores! Also, now that most of the tomatoes have flowered, you can remove the lower branches near the ground. (At least most tomatoes are too tall for bunny munching!).
Have you thought about fall vegetable gardening? Why not give it a try? You still need to do some planning by checking seed packets and counting back to figure out when to seed. Remember to add an extra 14 days to account for the change in light as summer wanes. You still have time to plant some beans, kale, peas, broccoli, and cabbage.
Here are some things to consider:
- Replace the nutrients in your plot that the spring and summer crops used up (for example, use compost, manure, or a complete organic fertilizer).
- If we have an extended dry period (like this week), seed germination might be more difficult. Plant deeper and water them well. You can use straw to mulch and keep the soil more moist and a bit cooler.
Check out the Fall Vegetable Gardening Handout posted on the web page and in the shed. I’ll have additional handouts at our meeting on August 29.
Jo Ann Bartsch