Margaret Lauterbach: It's time to restart your garden

Special to the Idaho StatesmanJuly 18, 2014 

  • Be careful using Dawn to kill Elm seed bugs

    Last week I advocated using Dawn dishwashing liquid, rubbing alcohol and water to kill Elm seed bugs. They appear in large numbers on structures - fences, sheds and houses - trying to get out of the heat. Dawn is a detergent, so if bugs are on foliage, do not spray this substance, for it may kill your plants. Only spray it if the bugs are congregated on a non-living feature in your yard.

Cabbages harvested? Pull out the plants and plant a few beet, carrot, parsnip or kohlrabi seeds, for instance.

This is when garden beds really get varied and fun.

The appearance of a vegetable garden may change dramatically between spring planting and fall harvest because of the "second harvest" plantings.

If you have started cole (brassica) or Asian greens indoors for fall planting, transplant those into recently-vacated holes after renewing that space with compost.

Those types of plants will withstand early frosts without harm, and some may even be improved by a nip of cold weather. The colorful ornamental kales and cabbages get their color from cold weather.

Swiss chard, lettuce, arugula, land cress (as opposed to water cress), Mache or lambs lettuce that will feed you well into winter also lend color to the planted garden, while adding to your nutrition after harvest.

HELP THE NEEDY

Is your garden producing more than you can use? Take surplus fruit and vegetables to the Idaho Foodbank, 3562 S. TK Ave. (south of Federal Way) or any community kitchen or remove those plants and plant something else. As long as their roots are in your soil they're removing nutrients, so if they're not producing food or beauty, pull them out.

INSECT-BATTLE SAFETY

Some of us, worried about the dwindling numbers of our pollinators (bees and butterflies in particular), have been mystified by criticisms of pesticides in corn. Bees and butterflies aren't renowned for working on corn pollen, where they could get into systemic pesticides.

They may drink those pesticides, though. When any green plant has more water than it needs, it sometimes exudes a drop or two from the tips of its leaves. This situation, called "guttation," is attractive to pollinators because the drop looks like moisture that doesn't carry the risk of drowning. Systemic insecticides applied to the plant will be carried throughout the plant, and be exuded in the guttation drops at the tips of their leaves.

Systemics are usually applied to the root zone via drenching the soil. They're not the commonly foliar-applied or dusting pesticides some gardeners use. Whatever you use to kill or repel insects, read the label and obey the instructions. If a label doesn't say it kills the pest you're trying to control, don't use it.

LIVE AND LEARN

When you're gardening, don't worry about mistakes you make. Worry if you make the same mistake again. As Thomas Jefferson said, "the failure of one thing is repaired by the success of another..."

That certainly applies to my garden this year. In an effort to repel squash bugs I was overzealous in planting radishes - breakfast, Easter egg, daikon and "watermelon" radishes - in the winter squash bed. I did not count on their growing so tall that they completely shaded out and killed the squash plants.

Another problem is the Apollo and Fiesta broccoli. Some who have grown those varieties indicated they produced well into fall. My plants are not producing side shoots worth harvesting.

But my chiles, eggplants and tomatoes are growing very well. Some green tomatoes are larger than golf balls, and are hanging in numbers, even on the small "determinate" plants. Early Wonder, for instance, is said to be determinate, but it produces throughout the summer rather than all at once, said to be characteristic of determinates.

Send garden questions to melauter@earthlink.net or Gardening, The Statesman, P.O. Box 40, Boise, ID 83707.

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