Even though home gardens are well established by midsummer, weeds will continue to sprout and compete with garden plantings for water and nutrients. It's important to remove this weedy competition, and hand pulling is my favorite method. Other means of controlling weeds include using mulches, both organic and non-organic. For example, a 1-inch layer of bark dust or sawdust will deter most annual weeds. A mulch of newspaper -- five sheets thick -- covered with bark dust, clean straw, or compost, will help control weeds and conserve soil moisture.
Plant More Veggies
To get the most value from your vegetable garden, make successive plantings of vegetables such as beets, beans, and carrots. Later plantings will enable you to continue the harvest into late fall. Dry soils can inhibit seed germination, so wait until after a rain to direct-seed cool-season crops, such as broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts.
Build a Wasp Trap
Although wasps are beneficial in the garden, they can be real pests at picnics. Here are directions for building a temporary home for them during your outing. Use an old jar with a screw lid, drill a 1/2-inch hole in the center of the lid and two smaller holes near the edges for string to hang the trap. A 3-foot-long piece of yarn or string poked through the outside and knotted on the inside of the lid makes a good hanger. Bait the trap with raw hamburger, screw the top on tightly, and hang it from a tree branch at least 20 feet away from your picnic site. The hole in the top allows insects to enter, but it's difficult for them to escape. At the end of the day, unscrew the lid and allow the wasps to fly away.
Prevent Cucumber Bitterness
Cucumbers develop a bitter taste if the soil is not kept consistently moist. Harvest cucumbers for pickling whole when they are 2 to 4 inches long. Harvest for table use when they're longer than 5 inches. Remove any overripe cucumbers to encourage continuous production.
Water Early and Often
Water the garden early in the day so plants can absorb the moisture before the hot sun dries the soil. Early watering also improves the chance that the foliage will have time to dry before night. Wet foliage at night increases susceptibility to fungal diseases.