Summertime is a wonderful season here in the northland. Every resort and campground is filled with vacationers and the lakes are lively with boaters and fisher folk. Evenings spent with family around a campfire are memories in the making. It is prime time for gardeners too, with our flowerbeds bursting with color, and enough tasty veggies from our gardens to share with friends and neighbors.
Don't Let Your Garden Go! Be sure not to abandon your garden simply because it is too hot to weed. Try getting out in the early morning. It's cool, quiet, and the mosquitoes aren't as abundant. I find hoeing the potatoes at dawn to be a great time for reflection.
Be Benevolent to Your Beans. While early morning is a great time for hoeing and weeding, stay away from your beans while they are wet. Disease is easily spread from plant to plant, so save your bean picking and weeding until later in the day.
Got Beetles? Early morning is also a great time to patrol the potato plot for signs of the dreaded Colorado Potato Beetle. When they are cold and wet with dew, it is easy to knock the yellow and black striped adults into a jar of soapy water, along with his not-so-attractive, slimy red offspring. Be sure to check under the leaves for their yellowish orange eggs and smush them.
Potato Pleasures. The first new potatoes of the season are a real treat. Carefully harvest a few small spuds from under your plants by carefully feeling around with your hands. If you don't disturb the plant too much, it will continue to nourish the rest of the tubers into full size potatoes.
Veggie Harvest. You can harvest many of your vegetables when they are still small and tender. Check daily for zucchini, green beans, and cucumbers. Better still; check twice a day, because there are always some veggies that get missed the first time.
Peruse Your Perennials. Take a good look at your perennial beds this month. If you aren't happy with how they look, go for a drive and check out what is blooming in other folks' yards. Some July mainstays that provide a lot of color are purple coneflowers, rudbeckia, and daylilies.
Dressing On the Side, Please. Many vegetables and flowers too, can benefit from a side dressing this month. This means to dig some organic fertilizer, compost, or composted manure into the soil around your plants. A half-inch of compost added to the top of your container plantings is a good idea as well.
Pass the Peas! Depending on our variable spring weather, many gardeners in zone 3 are just now harvesting shelling peas. Peas are easy to freeze. Just shell, drop into boiling water for a minute or two, then plunge them into ice water (just like a sauna in January!). Drain, dry a bit by rolling them on a clean dishtowel, then package and freeze.