2008-08-28 / Editorial

The Island Garden

By Roger Marshall

If you've been working in your garden this summer you probably have noticed that it's a pain going out at dusk. Mosquitoes are everywhere. All the rain we had last month seems to have provided so many places for them to grow. It won't be until frost hits that we'll see the last of them.

You can get rid of many of the pesky mites simply by emptying anything that holds water. If they are in your rain barrel, add one of the mosquito control tablets and get rid of them - or water your garden and let the bugs dry out in the soil. Otherwise invest in a Deet-based bug spray.

The vegetable garden

By now, your vegetable garden has probably descended into a weedy mess in which you have some tomatoes, peppers and other plants, somewhere. As long as plants are producing, weed around them and start lettuce, arugula, parsley, spinach and other fast growing greens. If you get them in now and cover them with a fleece before the first frost you should be able to harvest until mid-November. If you have a cold frame, you can probably harvest greens until Christmas. Last week I planted several rows of greens including all of the above. The next day I went out and only one plant still stood. The darn rabbits had eaten everything! All my plants go in the cold frame or greenhouse from here on.

Lawns

Your lawn may have had enough rain last month to come out of dormancy and start growing again. That usually means cutting at seven-day intervals — again. If dandelions are coming up again, make sure you get rid of them before they can go to seed or you'll have lots more next year.

Flower gardens

Heat loving dahlias are putting out blooms just about as fast as they can go. Make sure you label them in the next few weeks so that you know what colors and styles you have before the tops get blackened by frost. Keep your other flowers deadheaded to keep the blooms coming back. Make sure that the flowers are watered regularly and feed them with a fertilizer that encourages the plants to bloom.

Greenhouse

Clean the greenhouse now before you put plants back into it. You should wipe windows with a cleaner that contains ammonia to stop algae growing on them. Clean woodwork with a cleaner that contains a little bleach to kill off mold and mildew. Make sure the heating system is working properly so that you don't have to search for spare parts when a frost is due. You should also check lights to ensure that you can see around the greenhouse during long winter nights. I like to put Bubble Wrap around the inside of the cold greenhouse as additional protection against frost, so now is the time to order it, ready for late next month or early October. If you have any leaks or drafty areas, now is also the time to fix them, too.

Fruit trees

By now you should be harvesting fruit . . .or not, if you didn't spray or use any organic controls. It may be time to store or preserve apples, pears, peaches, and figs, although around here they don't seem to last too long.

Finally, make a note of what worked for you, what went wrong, where you planted your crops and who got the produce. This year my list for the last item is the squirrels got a lot of corn, squash seeds and the nuts. The rabbits got most of the young greens. The codling moth got a lot of apples. The groundhog got most of everything else, and I got what I grew in the greenhouse, protected by closed doors and screened windows. Not what I would call my best season. But then again, there's always next year.

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