Time to think about fall planting!

Wait… what?

It seems like you’ve just put that spring vegetable garden in… though actually, come to think of it, there are tomatoes reddening and squash burgeoning and summer is in full swing. But still, fall seems a long time away. Can’t we wait to think about it until it gets chilly again?

Well, if all you want to grow in the fall are lettuce and radishes, and maybe some spinach, sure. Given our tendency to long, warm autumns, you may be enjoying your summer vegetables well into October, or even November, if we don’t get a hard frost, so who needs to plant anything else? But those long autumns also mean we have an ideal situation for keeping our production going into winter. And if you planted broccoli or cabbage or cilantro this spring, or any other plant that prefers cool weather, and were disappointed when it went to flower early or began to taste bitter, let me tell you: fall is better. Temperatures that start a little warmer for tender seedlings and grow gradually cooler, resulting in frost-kissed sweetness and beautiful greens or root vegetables–terrific! You just need to do a little work to get there. Continue reading

Yard and Garden Tips and Tasks for July

Spotted Lanternfly

Spotted lanternfly adults may be found feeding on many hosts, especially tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissma). Report any finds to the Maryland Department of Agriculture immediately, collect a sample or take digital photos of what you have found.

 

BagwormBagworm caterpillars are now very active. Look for little bags crawling around on evergreen trees and shrubs and be prepared to spray infested trees with the microbial insecticide, Bt by mid-July. Mature bagworms are not well controlled with Bt They are best collected by hand and destroyed or sprayed with insecticides containing spinosad.

 

Proper lawn mowing is critical to help it survive the summer. “Mow ‘em high and let ‘em lie” should be your mowing strategy. Cut your cool-season turf (fescues and bluegrass) to a height of 3-4 inches and leave the clippings on the lawn where they will naturally decompose.

 

BroccoliSow seed for fall transplants of broccoli, kale, turnip, and cauliflower in flats or containers by the 3rd to 4th week in July. Late crops of squash, beans, and cucumbers can be direct sown into your garden through the end of July.

 

More Tips and Tasks for July

Monthly Tips for October

mumsOrnamental Plants

  • Mums that are planted this late should be treated as an annual. They will not become established over the winter. Fall-planted asters, however, will become established. Ornamental kale and cabbage produce a nice show of foliage but usually decline by February. Pansies are a good choice for fall and winter color in the garden. This is a good time to save the seed from annual flowering plants like cleome, zinnias, cosmos, celosia, and butterfly weed.
  • Now is the recommended time to divide and replant overcrowded perennials. Most are easily divided but a few such as Baby’s Breath, Gas Plant, Butterfly Weed, and Lenten Rose do not tolerate being divided. (See our publication on Dividing Herbaceous Perennials.)
  • Leave the flower heads on sunflowers, coneflowers, coreopsis, and black-eyed Susan to provide winter food for birds.

BroccoliVegetables

  • Be sure to discard badly-diseased plants and fruits; don’t till them back into the soil. All other plant waste can be composted or directly incorporated into your garden soil.
  • Carrots can be over-wintered in the garden by covering the bed with a deep straw or leaf mulch. Pull carrots through the winter as needed.
  • Lettuce, spinach, arugula, and kale can be planted through the middle of the month. Cover these late plantings with a cold frame, temporary greenhouse or floating row cover. Be sure to fertilize seedbeds, keep the soil moist and protect seedlings from pests. The young plants will go dormant and re-grow in Spring.

Continue reading