To do this week
* Check the vegetable garden daily. Summer squash and bush beans (a.k.a. string beans, snap beans) are maturing very rapidly now and need to be picked at least every other day. Speaking of bush beans, my favorite way to preserve the surplus is by pickling them. Maybe it’s my technique or lack thereof, but I find frozen snap beans to be rubbery and canned ones to be mushy. Pickled ones always come out best for us.
* Sow seeds of buckwheat in vacant areas of the garden. This so-called green manure crop contributes organic matter to the soil when turned under, but what I like best about buckwheat is its ability to shade out weeds that would otherwise develop in these areas.
* Plant kale, if you can find the seeds. Kale planted now will be ready for harvest this fall. If hot weather persists, be prepared to shade the seedlings until they are up several inches. Kale will also benefit from straw mulch placed around developing plants. Mmmmm! My mouth is watering at the thought of sausage, kale and white bean soup.
* Plant a few pots of parsley for the windowsill herb garden. I used to dig up parsley plants in fall and then pot them for use in winter, but they didn’t always transplant well because of damage to their taproot. So, now I just sow seeds directly into pots. Try this with other culinary herbs such as chives, chervil, and basil. A supplementary light source may be needed to keep these herbs happy in winter.
* Contact a local church or community agency for information on area food pantries. Even those of us who preserve much of our garden harvest have more than we can handle. So, why not donate it to a food pantry. Given current events, there is a need.
* Remove the spent blossoms from lady’s mantle (Alchemilla mollis). This not only makes the plant look tidy but also prevents it from re-seeding itself, and lady’s mantle loves to re-seed to the point of becoming a weed. I love lady’s mantle but I have my limits.
Wait another week to ten days and then begin pinching the new flower buds as they appear on tomato, eggplant, winter squash and pumpkins. Usually, I start pinching around the first of August, which is probably why my friends avoid me then. However, with the hot summer we’ve been having, plus the trend in recent years toward a late frost, I’m delaying pinching for just a bit.
Why pinch? The fruit on the crops mentioned are slow to develop, and it is unlikely that any fruit that is set from this point on will have enough time to reach maturity before the first killing frost of fall. Besides, removing new flower buds will divert the plant’s energy to the development of existing fruit.