Dried green beans still on the stalk
Dry beans; A saga of forgotten green beans, but not a total loss. These may be left on the plant until dry and then shelled as dry beans.

Gardener’s Checklist: Week of August 20, 2020

As the growing season winds down, Ron has suggestions for how to make the most of what's left.

* Allow green beans (snap beans and pole beans), which have gotten too large and too old, to fully ripen on the plants.  These can then be harvested as dry beans when the pods turn brown.  These dry beans can be used the same as any dry bean for baking, for soups and other bean dishes.

* Don’t bother to pull up dill and cilantro plants that have gone to seed.  Let the seed mature on the plants and then fall to the ground.  These seeds will sprout next year, giving you a new crop of these herbs without any expenditure of time, money, or effort.  This process works best only if dill and cilantro are given a permanent block of space in the vegetable or herb garden.

Dill: A few fully mature plants may be left in the garden and allowed to drop their seed for next year’s plants.

* Sow seeds of radish, spinach, leaf lettuce, turnip greens and beet greens.  Yes, it’s late to be starting vegetable crops but since these particular crops will tolerate moderate frosts, they’ll grow well into the fall.

* Chop up cornstalks after the ears have been harvested.  Chopping the stalks will speed their breakdown when tossed onto the compost pile or when turned under in the garden.  There’s also some evidence that chopping cornstalks will destroy the larvae of European corn borer.  An easy way to chop cornstalks is to run over them with a heavy duty rotary lawn mower.

* Remove the spent flowers from tall garden phlox (Phlox paniculata).  This does two things; it encourages the development of flowering side branches and it prevents the plants from reseeding.  The problem with reseeding is that the offspring revert to plants with less attractive flowers than the hybrids.  Also, the seedlings produced by reseeding are often more aggressive than the hybrids and will out-compete them.

Phlox paniculata ‘David”: Still in full bloom now, but as the flowers fade, they should be promptly removed.

* Include windflower (Anemone blanda) on your list of spring flowering bulbs to be planted this fall.  This hardy member of the typically tender anemone clan produces white, pink, or blue daisy-like flowers on low growing plants with finely dissected leaves.  Windflowers look best when planted in mass in a natural setting beneath deciduous trees.  There are also great plants for rock gardens.

* Groom house plants that have spent the summer outdoors.  Give each a forceful spray of water and then carefully inspect the plants for pests.  If any pests survived the rinse, apply insecticidal soap to rid plants of the pests.  Keep plants out of direct sunlight during and after spraying.  Before moving plants back indoors, remove any diseased leaves and stems.  A well-groomed plant is a happy plant.