Welcome back to Beyond Broccoli (earlier parts here) where in this final edition we will finally get around to talking about broccoli (and its flowering friends).
Imagine you’re strolling through your vegetable garden in June (maybe a warmer June than we just had) and you notice that a lot of the brassica crops you planted in the spring look like this:
In fact, they are bolting. It’s a response to heat and other stresses; the plant will go to flower and then (assuming the flowers are successfully pollinated) will produce seed. Reproduction means, for the plant, that it’s been successful and can die happy. Of course for the gardener it doesn’t always mean success. We might have wanted that mizuna to produce lots more edible leaves before bolting. But before you yank out the plant and toss it on the compost pile, do me a favor. Snip off that little cluster of flower buds and eat it.
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.
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.
Bagworm 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.
Sow 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