Vegetable Gardening Tips for the Dog Days of Summer


The dog days of summer are upon us and, while your garden might appear lush and thriving, now is not the time to rest on your proverbial laurels. Below are some quick midsummer gardening tips to keep your basil leafy, zucchini producing and your garden healthy and bountiful.

Pinch back your herbs and either use as fresh herbs or dry to use in the winter. The more you pinch back, the more growth you will encourage.

Are your zucchini vines suddenly looking wilted? If so, you may have a squash vine borer problem. These grubby white caterpillars hide inside the hollow vines of pumpkins, zucchini, summer squash and the like. Combating these pests is fairly easy. Look at the base of the affected vine, slice the stem lengthwise and dig out the borer. Cover the vine with soil and the “wound” will heal itself.

Now is the time to sow a second crop of zucchini and cucumbers. They will grow quickly in the warm midsummer soil. July is also a good time to plant arugula, but save spinach and head lettuce for early fall planting. This is also a good time to plant leaf lettuce mixes, such as mesclun, in the shade of your taller plants.

Grow flowering plants such as nasturtium, borage, yarrow, marigolds and cone flowers to lure and encourage beneficial insects.

Hand water your garden in the morning, watering the roots deeply. Take some time to enjoy your garden while inspecting for pests.

Keeping a garden journal is a great way to plan for next year. Start one today.

Elizabeth Rexer Leonard’s garden website is EARL’S Kitchen Gardens.