* Continue to watch for pests still frolicking in the vegetable garden. Cabbage worms on broccoli, cabbage and related plants, corn borers on sweet corn and peppers, wireworms in potatoes and carrots, sap beetles on exposed kernels of sweet corn, and hornworms on tomatoes are a few of the insects that are having a grand old time in most gardens.
* Sidedress long season crops such as fall cabbage, Brussels sprouts, carrots and leafy greens with fertilizer. However, don’t bother to fertilize vegetables that are now being harvested or are about to be harvested. One exception to the latter statement is cucumber. Cucumbers like lots of moisture and taste best when they grow rapidly. So, I’ll give them one more dose of fertilizer, but I’ll leave the watering up to Mother Nature who seems to have done an extraordinary job of that this summer.
* Set up some mouse traps in the garden next to melon, squash, and sweet potato plants. Mice and voles love to dine on the fruits of the vine crops and the tubers of the sweet potatoes. Place a box, such as the clementine crates, over the traps to prevent birds from getting caught.
* Place plastic netting over grape vines to keep birds from pecking at the ripening fruit. Be sure to tie the lower part of the netting together or to the base of vines, or secure the netting to the ground in some way. Otherwise, the birds fly under the net, get up into the vines and feast on the fruit, not to mention getting tangled in the netting. Untangling an angry bird from netting is not any fun, and those birds hold a grudge for a long time.
* Dig up some leeks now even if they aren’t fully grown. This is near the time of year when allium leaf miner adults are laying eggs on the leaves of leeks and members of the onion family. The larvae of the leaf miners tunnel their way through the leaves to the base of the plant. Since I’ve already harvested onions and garlic, my focus is on the leeks. If not using the leeks right away, simply chop them up and freeze them.
* Dig up clumps of bearded iris that have been in the ground for 3 to 5 years. Cut back the leaves to about 6 to 8 inches and wash or shake free the soil surrounding the thick root-like rhizome. Cut away portions of the rhizome at the center of the clump, saving the outer portions from which the leaves arise. Immediately replant these saved pieces of rhizome. Avoid planting bearded irises in soils heavily enriched with manures.
* Grow perennial vines on a trellis or lath fence to create a privacy screen for those times when you need to bury the coffee can containing your life savings. This is a good time to plant vines, especially container-grown plants.
* Don’t let up on weeding the garden just yet. Many weeds have matured and are setting seed. These must go! A single weed is capable of producing thousands of seeds. As an example, one pigweed plants can produce over 100,000 seeds. Ouch!
* Use a fine-toothed comb to examine houseplants for insects and mites. This is especially important for plants that spent the summer outdoors. They tend to pick up hitchhikers while on their summer vacation. I suppose a coarse-toothed comb could be used. Just don’t ask me how to use a comb to examine plants; I don’t have a clue.