Summer Gardening Tips (Pests, Propagation, and Planning)

green tomatoesSummer is in full gear. Which means there is a lot to do in the garden, there always is isn't there? The tomatoes and peppers are beginning to produce and in a couple short weeks should be ready to pick. Here are a few summer gardening tips to help you in your garden.


Watch for Pests

Always be vigilant in the garden. Pests can appear at any time, some of which will decimate a crop in a few short hours if you aren't observant. Squash vine borers are out. I found one yesterday on a zucchini. The eggs are laid at the base of the plant and when they hatch the larvae burrow into the stem and eat they way up which eventually kills the squash plant. If you see sawdust at the base of your squash cut the stalk and kill the larvae inside. Then cover the base of the plant with soil or mulch. Hopefully this will allow the plant to recover.

squash vine borer

Tomato hornworms are out too. These caterpillars can reduce a tomato plant to almost nothing in a few hours. You may notice their droppings before you actually see the caterpillar. Remove the caterpillar from the plant and search your plant thoroughly. If the caterpillar has white growths on its skin about the size of a grain of rice then leave it alone. It's been infected by a parasitic wasp which uses it as a host to grow its young. That caterpillar will die and in the process those wasp larvae will grow up to attack other caterpillars. Natural pest control!

tomato hornworm with parasitic wasps


Continue to Plant

Keep planting plants like bush beans and squash. Bush beans produce a lot of beans all at once then can be composted and replaced. Squash tends to be shorter lived due to insect pests but can be planted successively to maintain a consistent harvest.


Continue to Weed


Every weed you remove before it flowers and sets seed could mean thousands of weeds you don't have to weed later! Keep those weeds under control with thick mulch, newspapers, or landscape fabric. Avoid the chemicals!

Propagate!

grape vines from cuttingsEarly summer is a great time to propagate many garden plants. Greenwood is primed and ready to root and isn't as soft and tender as in the spring. Many garden plants are easy enough to produce just by placing them in a pot with moist soil. Consider propagating some vegetable plants to pot up and bring indoors when the cold weather hits. Peppers are very easy to root and can be brought indoors to overwinter for next spring. Basil is another good one as well. Just take cuttings of about 3-4 inches on either of these plants stick in soil and keep moist. Rooting hormone is not necessary but can speed things along. If a tomato plant happens to die in the garden and you need a replacement cut a branch from another plant and root it. Tomatoes root very easily!

In my gardening I'm having fun rooting grape vines. The greenwood cuttings root very easily if kept humid. The picture to the right is of three 'Concord' grape vines that I rooted a couple weeks ago.

large leaf lettuce leaf basil


Begin Planning for Fall Crops

If you grow a fall garden now is a good time to plant what seeds you want to get started. It will be a few weeks before they need to be started but it is a good idea to plan ahead.



What are you working on in your garden?


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