This may be the weekend to give the garden a lick and promise and head out to the country to pick fresh silver queen corn, now in abundance all around the area.
Rare is the garden that has its act together enough to yield sweet corn in mid-August; and if you're one of those gardeners, you probably don't need to be reading a garden column to find out what to do next.
All things considered, though, you may want to put off the corn-picking until a little later and tend to your own back yard this weekend. Good news: The grass will have grown somewhat with all the rain we've been having, but put your lawn mower on the highest possible setting anyway, because this is the time when you should mow less often and not as radically as earlier in the summer. The only exception to the rule of higher-setting mowing during August is if you're going away for a couple of weeks and the lawn will be left untouched by human feet for that length of time. In that case, go ahead and mow down on the lowest setting.
Now is the time to plan your fall garden. The bulbs you ordered will be coming in, so prepare the area if it needs it. Dig in some peat moss and ground bone meal. Broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts and cauliflower are all available from nurseries, but you may have to scout around a bit for the young plants. A vegetable garden should be esthetic, too, so consider putting in a clump of broccoli (18 inches apart, for they will grow large) surrounded by some handsome purple cabbage. If you can find the plants this weekend, it may behoove you to go ahead and put them in now. If not, plan on looking around, and in the meantime, pull up spent broccoli from the spring, harvest all your cauliflower and cabbage; freeze it, or pickle it, or make sauerkraut with the cabbage; and clear the area for the fall crop. Contrary to what you would do in the spring -- plant members of the cabbage family in a different place -- you can go ahead and put in a second-season crop right over the earlier ones in the same year. FRUITFUL FALL: Other fall crops to plan on include spinach, lettuce, chard, peas, spring onions, radishes, turnips, carrots and beets. A gardener I just visited told me that last year she was harvesting all of these things, except peas, almost until Christmas. She finally closed the garden down in late December. And that's in the country. So there's no excuse not to have a strong garden into winter in the city.k
Plan for these vegetables now, because they should go in in the next two weeks. SQUASH MAINTENANCE: The larger leaves on your zucchinis and other summer squashes may die back at this time. New growth should continue coming up from the center. Check again for borers. And clip off any dead leaves from the outer rim; dead leaves are a haven for squash bugs. Dust lightly with Sevin if it's necessary to keep these plants going. Sevin, I am told, breaks down more rapidly than Rotenone, even though it is a chemical pesticide. Whatever you use, do so sparingly. Continue picking off egg clusters from under the leaves. It may be right on the borderline, but if you've got little to lose, try putting in some new seeds as old squash plants die off. This is also true of cucumbers, although by now you may have had your fill of these vegetables. BEAN BONANZA: This is just about the last weekend you can plant beans and still count on getting them. Get an early variety -- one that fruits early, that is. They will pop right up out of the ground because they love the warmk earth, and that will get the young plants well on their way before any cool weather hits. DAHLIA DITHERS: You were supposed to have staked your dahlias when you put them in back in April or May. Since you didn't, though, and now they are drooping all over each other, when you stop off at your garden center buy some of those lightweight tomato cages. They are fairly useless for tomatoes, but serve quite well in supporting a plant that won't get quite as large. When you get back, go out and tie each dahlia plant in a fairly tight bunch. Do this with enough care not break off any stalks. Then carefully lower the lightweight tomato cage over the bunched dahlia. Untie the flowers and let the stalks drape nicely out the sides of what is now a dahlia cage. The major advantage of using this kind of cage is that the tines that go into the ground are not very long, so they are unlikely to disturb the root systems, which is something a stake would probable do.