One thing I've decided is to just not feel guilty about not getting out and picking vegetables as they come in when the humidity has reached 70 or more percent. A weedy garden is just about the hottest place to be on such a day. My theory is that a garden should be as much fun as work.
But if you feel guilty enough, here are some things you can do while sweltering in your garden on Saturday.
Those squash plants you dissected a couple of weeks ago to pull out the squash borers are probably dead. Pull them up and put in new ones. You can still get a small harvest if you plant them from seed now.
Frankly, I've had it this year with summer squash. It's time to bag the whole idea and just go buy what's needed from a stand. There are too many years of bumper squash harvests to lose any sleep over one year of killing the darn things without any effort at all.
Put in some lettuce instead. And radishes and beets. They taste better anyway.
TOMATO TOPS: A lot of people have noticed that the top of their tomatoes this year seem to have black or brown rotted out spots. It's called "blossom-end rot," which is exactly what it looks like. It's caused by a lack of calcium in the soil or, what's more likely this year considering how much of it's around -- uneven watering. We've had long dry spells followed by long wet spells and so much back and forth on the rain and sun that it seems to have done some damage to many tomatoes.
If you've got only a small crop of tomatoes, just cut off the bad spot and use the rest. If you can afford to sacrifice some, throw the affected fruit into your compost. Next spring, they'll pop right up after the warm weather hits, and, if they're not hybrid tomatoes, you'll have a good supply of new plants to put in.
MORE HERB HINTS: Now's the time to take cuttings from herb plants that need to come in for the winter. Rosemary, scented geraniums and some less common types of basil are among those can be rooted fairly easily. Thyme, chives, tarragon, parsley and sage are all hardy perennials and will come right back up next year, if you mulch them a little. Among these herbs, only thyme lends itself well to rooting for propagation. I know people root French tarragon, but I've never had much luck trying. Bay laurel should remain in a pot year-round, so there's no rooting involved with this herb.
There are various methods to rooting cuttings from perennials. Probably the most foolproof is to dip the cut end of the branch in a rooting compound from your garden center and plant it in a sterile soil compound. I've had very good luck just clipping the plant (with the thyme you can clip off a branch that has some roots already trying to grow into the ground) and putting it in ordinary garden soil in a pot. Keep the new plant evenly moist until it seems to be making it. This may take from one to three weeks.
Rooting herbs now gives you a chance to take more cuttings later on if the first batch didn't make it. After the cuttings are well-established, bring the pots in at night to begin acclimating the new young things to being indoors.
You can try carefully digging the plants up out of the garden and putting them in a pot, but I've had little luck with this, because the root system of the plant generally is too large to fit into even a large pot. This is especially true of parsley, which puts forth a very deep tap root. Chives will return bigger and stronger than ever next year if you leave them alone.
CABBAGE PATCH: Get those cabbage family members in this weekend if you can. You've got the next couple of weekends to do that, but the earlier you can get them started, the better. These include brussels sprouts, cabbage (purple and green), cauliflower, broccolli and kohlrabi. Keep these young plants watered. These crops, by the way, must go in now as plants, not seeds.
It may not be too late to throw around a small package of winter squash seeds. If you've got the space and the inclination, try some. With a good southern exposure, a site near a building and a late frost, they should produce.
GLITTERING GLADS: While I've never been overly fond of gladiolas as a garden flower, unless surrounded by a dense foliage that keeps them from looking lank and stalky, they do make quite a show as cut flowers. So cut them and arrange them in the house. If you do leave them outside, you'll have to stake them. They tend to lean when even the slightest breeze blows. Put the stake in gingerly so as to not hit the bulb, about four inches from the stalk itself. Try to find slender green stakes, which won't look so obvious. Tie the flower firmly to its stake.