Cool weather leads to amazing crop

PAUL HAMBRUCH-In the Garden

The unusually cool weather of the last few weeks has resulted in an amazing crop of spinach and lettuce in our garden and friends report the same from their gardens.

Even the tomato plants are sturdier than I have seen them in many years.

The question now is whether the tomato flowers will get pollinated so that they set fruit. A nice, sunny and warm July and August would go a long way to still give us a good tomato crop.

Did you give your carrots a good mulching yet?

Two to four inches of mulch, placed right against the carrot greens, will prevent damage by carrot rust fly because the adult flies lay their eggs around the greens from where the larvae have to burrow down to the roots but they don’t have the stamina to work there way down through a heavy layer of mulch.

Ever since we started mulching our carrots, we have had almost no damage by carrot rust fly.

What works as mulch? Most gardeners have grass clippings that are ideal for mulching. And now that we have a pesticide bylaw, you shouldn’t have to worry about lawn weed killer contaminating your grass clippings.

If you ignored the bylaw, then you had better not use the grass clippings in your garden (even your compost pile). I use planer shavings from my woodworking shop and they work very well. If you are worried about the wood in your soil, it is easy enough to rake most of the shavings off at the end of the season and send them to the landfill. Or you could put them into your compost pile.

It is true that the wood will take up a lot of nitrogen as it decomposes but watering them with organic fish fertilizer or even a few handfuls of urea lawn fertilizer will supply the extra nitrogen.

I have not had any problems with the rather small quantities of wood shavings introduced to fight carrot rust fly.

The cool, wet weather has also brought on slugs earlier than usual. I am using the iron phosphate based slug bait which lasts longer, even in rainy weather and is not toxic to pets but very effective against slugs.

If you prefer not to use any “chemicals” at all, here is another suggestion: do you have any cold coffee left over from breakfast? I have read that scientists in Hawaii discovered that strong coffee, sprayed on the soil around your plants, will repel slugs effectively. If you try it and it works, please let me know.

There is also the method of placing shallow vessels full of beer between the rows of plants. Apparently, the slugs will crawl into the beer and drown.

And if your woodworking husband (or wife) has some old pieces of boards cluttering up the workshop, you can lay them flat on the soil.

The slugs will crawl under them as protection against the day’s heat.

All you need to do is turn the boards over in the morning and destroy the critters.

But don’t use salt. It doesn’t necessarily kill the slugs but salt is detrimental to plant growth.

And a quick question to my readers: Does anyone have a fail-safe method to shut up crows and magpies?

No, I don’t own a shotgun.

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