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Evaluate the state of the garden

| Friday, Aug. 6, 2004

This is a good weekend to take a walk through the garden and evaluate how plants are growing and how they are producing. Did you plant too many of one type of plant and not enough of another?

Are the plants planted in a certain part of the garden not doing as well as others?

Could the soil, light or moisture be different in this area•

Did you plant some crops too early, and when it came time to pick them, you were out of town• If you had waited a week or two, your work would not have been wasted.

Jot a few notes about how these problems can be remedied for next season. Then, tack the note on the wall in the shed, garage or basement where you will see it as a reminder and problem solver.

While walking through the garden, be on the lookout for plants that might be heavily infested with insects or are showing a number of diseased leaves. These plants should be removed from the garden. Other plants that are mildly infested should be sprayed or dusted.

Keep in mind that some sprays have waiting periods before harvesting. Be sure to check the label. We have sprays that can be applied one day and harvested the next day. Any spray containing pyrethrins, insecticidal soaps, Rotenone and even Sevin -- on certain plants -- can be harvested the next day, if need be.

Spraying or dusting should be done in the early morning or late evening, if possible. At this time, insects are at rest on the plants and are more vulnerable to the insecticidal sprays.

To keep vegetables growing and toto restart those that are not doing well, fertilize with a granular, nitrogen fertilizer, such as urea or nitrate of soda. Most nitrogen fertilizers are water-soluble; therefore, they are easily leached out of the soil. For good plant growth, this leached-out nitrogen must be replaced.

When side dressing (sprinkling the fertilizer along the side of the plants) with a nitrogen fertilizer, it is better to spread it lightly and do it more often, such as once per week, than it is to use a lot at one time. Nitrogen can burn, and nitrogen also can cause foliage growth. Too much foliage growth on certain plants is not needed.

There still is time to plant vegetables from seed for fall harvest. The advantage of planting now is that the soil and air temperatures are ideal for growing, especially when we get into September. There is more moisture available, and temperatures are cooler.

Vegetables to start from seed now: peas, spinach, lettuce, endive, beans, carrots, turnips, Swiss chard and beets.

Continue deadheading (removing old flower heads) blooming plants. This will increase the production of new flowers and extend the blooming time of perennials.

Fertilize flowers now with a granular or liquid fertilizer. Flowers are in their full glory; so to keep them that way, keep them fertilized.

With the rain we have been having, continue treating moist areas for slugs and snails. Now is the time slugs and snails will be laying eggs for next spring. Treating at this time will helpcontrol the population next season.

Garden tip: Examine fruit trees and berry bushes for insects and disease. For insects that crawl up the trunk, apply a band of Tanglefoot. This will stop fall cankerworm, bagworms and ants. Remember, it is easier to prevent insects from damaging your trees and bushes rather than to treat them after they become established.

Send questions to Dave Vargo, Valley News Dispatch, 210 Fourth Ave., Tarentum PA 15084. Vargo has a degree in horticulture from Penn State University and owns Arnold Feed & Garden Center and Kiski Plaza Garden & Feed Center.

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