UMaine Cooperative Extension Expert Offers Tips to Save What is Left of the Harvest

Contact: Richard Brzozowski, 780-4205 or

The growing season of 2009 has not been a typical one. Weeks of cool temperatures, too much rain, disease and other problems have put a damper on many Mainers’ hopes for a “bumper crop” of produce. Richard Brzozowski of the University of Maine Cooperative Extension offers the following list of actions people can take to eke out what’s left of the gardening season:

  • Think like your grandparents. Be resourceful. Don’t give up.
  • Some of the plants in your garden can still produce delicious fresh foods. Continue to carefully tend your garden by weeding, thinning, watering and managing pests. Harvest what you can. Finish the season well. Be aware of possible frosts and protect the tender plants that remain.
  • Consider planting a fall garden of greens. You may need to construct a cold frame or temporary hoop house to “buy” some extra weeks of growing to allow your newly seeded crops a chance to produce.  There are several crops that can produce edibles within 30-45 days. Consider radishes, beets, spinach, mesclun, lettuce, etc. For information on extending the growing season, visit and download UMaine Extension’s fact sheet “Extending the Gardening Season” or watch the video “Extending the Growing Season.”
  • Build the soil for next year’s garden. Use the coming weeks to till new areas; amend areas with compost or farm manures; and have a soil test done to determine soil pH and the need for lime.
  • Consider expanding your garden for next year. This is a great time to build some new raised beds; build or gather containers for next year’s use; clear brush; level land; create paths; remove rocks; stockpile manure and compost. For information on raised bed and container gardening, download “Garden Equipment and Items to Make for the Maine Garden,” part of UMaine Extension’s container and raised bed garden fact sheet series or watch the video “Raised Bed Gardens” at
  • If your garden was a complete failure, consider purchasing easy-to-store vegetables and fruits from local Maine farmers such as potatoes, rutabagas, turnips, beets, carrots, winter squash, apples, etc. To find farmers near you, visit the Get Real Get Maine website. You can search the site by county or product.
  • Consider buying local produce to preserve by canning or freezing. If you need information about food preservation, contact your local UMaine Extension office or take one of our hands-on food preservation workshops or visit our Preserving the Summer Harvest website. A newly published and handy, 375-page book on food preservation from the University of Georgia titled “So Easy to Preserve” is available from UMaine Extension publication catalog, or check out the free “Let’s Preserve” fact sheet series, all at
  • Learn from the situation. Make a list of things you could have done to minimize the impact of a cold and wet summer. Start making written plans for the next growing season.