Thursday, August 9, 2012

August (mid August) Garden Talks

Hello again,

Okay the first week of August is behind us. What does that mean? Summer is going TOO fast for one.

Secondly, it is time for some mid August Garden Talks. I will be updating this post over the next few days so check back every now and then when you can!

*From our friends at Gardener's Supply: Many of our popular back yard birds eat troublesome garden insects. Click HERE for a quick article about some of these popular birds and the pesky plant insects and other troublemakers that our feathered friends help to control! We sell many great bird feeders and top quality bird food to attract many birds to your yard!
Chickadees Help in the Garden by Eating Garden Insect Pests!

*Begin digging potatoes after the tops have died down. Many other crops are ready for harvest. Many, many vegetable crops should be starting to produce bountifully now. I have not been to Aroostock County lately (but I will be soon)and I do know it will soon be“new potato” season up there! (8/09/2011)

* Cornstalks are particularly rich material for the compost bin, a result of the nutritious soil they grow in. So after the crop is harvested  pull the stalks up and chop them into the composter—a shredding machine is the simpler but noisier alternative—to decompose and enrich your supply of brown gold. If the compost bin is full, use hedge clippers to chop the stalks into 6” pieces, then bury them as you spade the ground over for another crop. (From Jim "Crockett's Victory Garden"). 

*Paul Parent of the Paul Parent Garden Club sends out a weekly garden e newsletter which I urge you to subscribe to. Paul makes many good points about August garden tasks. I sum up quite a few right here:

PP:"Broccoli will continue to form 1 to 3 inch florets of flowers that I think are better tasting than the big first head of flowers you picked in June. Pick often and store these small florets in a storage bag in the refrigerator until there is enough to eat for the family.... The more you pick, the more the plant will produce for you, as long as you water regularly and feed every week or two .... Broccoli will continue to produce for you right until early October if you water and feed the plants." I recommend feeding with Fish and Seaweed Food by Neptune's Harvest.

PP:"Pepper plants will continue to grow if you remove the mature peppers as they ripen from the plant. When the color is right, cut the pepper from the plant--never twist it off or you could damage the branch it is growing on, preventing future pepper production. Like every other vegetable, water and fertilizer applied regularly will mean extra vegetables at the end of the season."

PP:"August is a great month for tomatoes, so keep picking as they ripen and the plant will keep producing right up until frost. Mid-August pinch the tips off all the branches to stop the plant from growing larger.

This pinching will send the energy to the green tomatoes and help them grow larger and ripen faster. August is usually hot and dry, so be sure to water the plants regularly or you will begin to notice that the top of the tomatoes will begin to crack due to water stress in the plant.

If your tomatoes start to ripen too fast for you and you can't use them all right now, here is what I do with them. Wash them well under the faucet with cold water to clean them, and then place them in a freezer bag to go into your freezer until the cold days of winter come. All I do is take the tomatoes out of the freezer and drop them into a pot of slow boiling water to crack the skin of the tomato and remove it. You now have a wonderful base for fresh tomato soup, so just add vegetables and a bit of pasta to slow cook for those cold days. Your kitchen will smell wonderful and your family will love it."

PP:"Your onions will be ready as soon as the greens begin to flop over. Pull them out of the garden and let them dry out in the sunshine until the roots are all dried up and the stems begin to wither away. Cut the stems to one inch of the onion bulb and continue to dry until all the green that remains turns brown and store in your basement for the winter. If you should start to notice onions making flowers on top of the plant, pick those plants and use as soon as possible, as the plant is trying to make seed; it's all done growing and will not keep well over the winter."

PP:"Your cabbages are growing bigger every day now, so begin to pick them and use them while they are not too large. How much coleslaw can you eat at a time? Smaller is better, but cabbage will keep for several weeks in a cool basement or garage in the fall season."

PP:"When the weather begins to get cold, the Brussels sprouts will taste better so do not pick those until we have had a couple good frosts on the plant. If the plant freezes solid, do not worry, as the small sprouts will have even more flavor. I eat most of mine during October, November December! I dig them out of the snow and all I need is a bit of butter, salt and pepper and forget the beef--I'm happy."

PP:"Now is the time to plant fresh seed in your garden for fall vegetables. The following vegetables will have plenty of time to mature if you plant in the next couple of weeks: peas, beans, radishes, spinach, leaf lettuce, and Swiss chard. So fill in those empty spots where you have finished harvesting in the garden now with fall vegetables." I have just planted new crops of lettuce, broccoli and swiss chard and they should do real well through the fall!
Thanks Paul! 

 *Tomato plants are bearing fruit and will be doing plenty of "giving" over the next few weeks. One common problem with tomatoes is the cracking of fruit. Tomatoes often start to crack during warm, rainy periods (I tend to "crack" during cold, icy periods but really this is not about me!)--especially if this weather comes after a dry spell. Folks, we have had the dry spell and are embarking on a warm, rain period. The tomatoes simply expand too fast. They are most likely to crack when they have reached full size and are beginning to turn color. The best way to avoid the problem is to keep the moisture supply as steady and your watering as deep as possible during the entire gardening season.

Jet Star Tomato--Always Delicious, Always Plentiful, Always Sold at Skillin's!

So, we did get some rain Saturday night the 6th and spotty rain is being forecast over the next few days in Skillin's Country. Don't be fooled: your tomato plants need good deep waterings at the base of the plant SEVERAL times per week. This keeps a nice steady supply of water and nutrients going through your plant and keeps it on an even keep through the hot and dry and warm and wet time periods.

Several tomato varieties that we typically sell are more crack resistant than others. Some of these include Early Girl, Better Boy, Jet Star, and Sungold.

Mike Skillin
Skillin's Greenhouses
August 9, 2012

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