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This week in your Massachusetts garden & landscape

Week of July 11, 2016 By Ron Kujawski

In the minds of most rational people, spring is the time for planting and summer is for garden maintenance and for harvesting vegetable crops. Not being of sound mind, I look at summer as also a time for planting.

With many vegetables, such as peas, spinach, lettuce, and radishes, having run their course, that leaves space available for planting other crops.  These would include frost-sensitive vegetables like summer squash, cucumbers, and beans.  To be sure they will have enough time to mature, find the average date of first fall frost for your area and then add 14 days to that figure.  The additional days take into account the slower maturation of plants in summer.  Once you have completed that calculation, check the seed packet for “days to harvest” to be sure there is enough time for these vegetables to mature.  Do the same for cabbage, kale, broccoli and other frost tolerant crops.  We use the same calculation for these since their growth essentially stops once the weather gets cold, even though they will not succumb to early fall frosts.

Don’t you succumb to the lazy, hazy days of summer. There’s much to do:

  • Look for hazard trees in your yard.  With thunderstorm season upon us, these trees can easily be toppled in gusty winds.  Detecting a hazard tree is not always easy, so it may be advisable to have a certified arborist survey trees for potential hazards. Nevertheless, some telltale signs of hazard trees are extensive branch dieback and the appearance of fungal growths (mushrooms) extending from the tree trunk.
  •  Avoid working around vegetables plants when their leaves are wet. Many diseases, such a bacterial blight of tomatoes and peppers, and anthracnose of beans, are easily transferred from plant to plant as you make your way down the rows.
  • Place straw under tomato plants to keep water from splashing soil onto the leaves.  Fungi causing certain foliar diseases on tomatoes are live in soil.
  • Place netting over blueberry bushes to keep feathered friends, especially of the bird type, from stealing your crop of berries.  Be sure netting extends all the way to the ground and is secured with heavy stones.  Otherwise, birds will walk under the netting to get at the fruit.  The problem is that the birds then often become entangled in the netting as they try to fly away instead of walking back out under the net.  Dumb birds!
  • Get out your arsenal of Japanese beetle weapons.  The beetles who feed on roses, linden trees, grapes, and over 300 other plants are now out and about.  Hand picking in many instances may be all you have to do if beetle numbers are not too great.  Application of Neem while the population is small may be a good option on food crops.

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