Posted By Carol Stocker
The Massachusetts Horticultural Society and Master Gardener Betty Sanders share these hints: The July drought was broken for most of us last week, but the effects will likely go on. One or two inches of rain allow lawns to recover and perks up annuals and perennials, but does little for the trees and shrubs. These plants have exhausted their reserves over the very hot weeks and will need substantial rain in the next few months to prepare them for the winter drought. (Moisture is generally unavailable to plants even if there is a foot of snow above ground.) Any trees and shrubs put in this year or late last fall are still establishing a complete root system and should be being watered weekly until the ground freezes.
It is time to replant the vegetable garden. You are up to your elbows in zucchini and squash, the green beans (or the bean beetles) have overrun your garden, and the tomatoes will soon overwhelm even the greatest enthusiast. But now is the time to replant your garden for the fall. We are pretty much guaranteed two frost-free months in August and September and, during that time, you can enjoy more from the garden.
It's not too late to plant one more row of beans if you choose those that mature in under 60 days. It's the perfect time to plant a couple of rows of peas, beets, radishes, carrots and lettuce. All of these crops will survive a light frost, or a not-so-light frost if covered when the temperature is expected to drop. Kale planted now can be harvested well through the autumn, maybe even for Thanksgiving dinner if we have another mild fall.
Remember to clean up debris from any plant that has finished producing. Whether it's a bean plant with beetles or a corn stalk with borers, if it was affected by insects or disease, remove it from the garden, bag it and send it to the trash. Insects lurk where you least expect them-corn borers happily winter over, even in stalks that have been chopped up. You don't want to give those pests a head start for next year.