July brought the summer weather that we expect here in Maine: hazy, hot, humid, and dry. These conditions were great for growing fungus, molds, mildews, and disease. For information on pest and plant disease management, see Insect Pests & Plant Diseases or visit your local UMaine Extension county office.
Now we’re into August and wondering how did the season that we longed for back in February slip by so fast? Hopefully your gardens are producing more fruits and vegetables then you expected, and you may be looking to help out a local food pantry or maybe just donate food to an organization in your area. UMaine Extension has some helpful information about doing just that. See Bulletin #4303, A Donor’s Guide to Vegetable Harvest and Bulletin #4302, Food Safety for Food-Pantry Donations. Both publications are also available at your local UMaine Extension county office.
Things To Do in August
- Harvest your garlic, saving the best heads for replanting in October. Wait for the bottom 2 or 3 leaves to turn yellow. For more information, see our video on how to grow garlic in Maine or read Bulletin #2063, Growing Hardneck Garlic in Your Maine Garden.
- Sow another crop of peas, kale, beans, spinach or other short season vegetables. See all the ways you can get your garden going earlier in the spring, along with extending it later into the fall in Bulletin #2752, Extending the Gardening Season.
- Pay attention to your lawn. Now is the best time of year to plant and reseed your lawn. Learn more in Bulletin #2367, Establishing a Home Lawn in Maine.
- As areas in your garden become empty, amend your vegetable garden soil by sowing cover crops. These green manures will be turned under later to improve the soil texture and fertility. Visit Cornell University to learn more about cover crops.
Items of Interest
- What’s that plant? Have you ever asked yourself what’s that mysterious plant doing in my flower or vegetable garden? It’s hard to travel the country without noticing invasive and non-native plants alongside roads or train tracks. Kudzu, bittersweet, Canadian thistle, cheat grass … the list of invaders is very long and, unfortunately, growing. In the Ecological Landscaping Associations’ Newsletter you can find articles and information that take a look at managing and identifying non-native plants or check the status of alien plants in our area. Here are a few good websites:
- Fruit Growers Alert 7/26/2013: Spotted Wing Drosophila Activity Spreading: For the latest information on the (SWD) see the announcement posted with color pictures on the University of Maine Highmoor Farm Spotted Wing Drosophila webpage, where you can subscribe to updates. Please see the following for more integrated Pest Management resources:
Raised Bed Gardening Course: The raised bed gardening program is entering its fifth week of the six week schedule, with positive feedback from those in attendance. So far we have harvested over 45 pounds of produce midway into the season with much more to come. The produce has been donated to the Senior Companion Program here at the UMaine Extension Somerset County office. The harvest has consisted so far of Swiss chard, spinach, lettuce, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, kale, beans, beets, beet greens, and tomatoes. Attendance has been great averaging of 15 to 20 participants attending each session.
- New Invasive Plants in Maine from Ken Canfield, District Forester, Maine Forest Service: There are some new invasive plants that have been either found in Maine or are getting close. New Invasive Plants (PDF) identifies these plants and those with which they may be confused. Garlic Mustard and Black Swallow-Wort are both all over Maine and can affect forestland. Japanese Stilt Grass is in New Hampshire and definitely affects forests. Yellow Flag Iris is a common landscaping plant in Maine that escapes into and takes over wetlands. Kudzu and Mile-a-Minute Weed are plants that were thought to be incapable of surviving our winters, but are now in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, and are headed our way. Another scary one that is already in Maine that was not included in the New Invasive Plants information is Hardy Kiwi. Hardy Kiwi is a favorite of permaculture people because the fruit is edible. Many of these plants are available to buy online and can be delivered to your front door, so they could be popping up anywhere. I was surprised to see how many of these plants have already been found in Aroostook County and Downeast.
- The University of Maine is pleased to announce a new UMaine Extension website resource from Andrew Plant and Ellen Mallory! Small grains have long played an important role in Maine agriculture, and their value is increasing with new and local markets for a greater variety of grains. You will find information on growing small grains and oil seeds for feed, food, and energy at the new UMaine Extension Grains & Oilseeds website.
- The Nations Oldest Consecutively Running Agricultural Fair: The Skowhegan State Fair will be celebrating 195 Years when it opens its gates on August 8, along with the 100 year celebration of the 4-H Program in Maine. Now is the time when fair season is in full swing. So get out and support your local agricultural fair. It’s a great way to have fun with the family. Please visit the following websites for more information.
- Forest Heritage Days 22nd Annual Celebration: August 9 – 10, 2013 in Greenville, Maine, everybody is invited to join this event to celebrate the various aspects of Maine’s forest heritage. For directions and more information, visit Forest Heritage Days 2013!
- 2013 Kennebec/Somerset Bulb Sale: Plant bulbs this fall to have flowers next spring and summer. Over the years we have been very happy with the quality of the Fedco bulbs. For those ordering the early bulbs, i.e. Day Lily, Peony, and Bearded Iris, we need to receive those orders by August 16. We hope you make some good selections and are ready to plant in October when the bulbs arrive. For more information or to have an order sheet mailed out, please call 207.622.7847 ext 3 or e-mail Dale Finseth at Dale@kcswcd.org.
- Maine Farm Days: Wednesday and Thursday, August 21 and 22 at Misty Meadows Farm in Clinton. There will be workshops for private pesticide applicators to earn credits on both days. See the workshop schedule. For more information, see Maine Farm Days.
Our deepest condolences go out to the family of Howard Daigle. Howard was a Master Gardener (2012) in Somerset County and volunteered in the community in many capacities. Howard’s kind words, great smile, and willingness to help others out where ever needed will be deeply missed by us all.
Just a reminder, please keep sending in your volunteer hours. Also the second half of the 2013 Master Gardener course will resume on Monday, September 9, here at the UMaine Extension office in Skowhegan from 9:00 to 12:00.