Increase Plant Resistance
One of the newest aspects of pest control involves inducing resistance to insects and diseases in plants by the application of various compounds. Although the study and application of this method is still relatively in its infancy, there are several commercial products available, including Messenger, Serenade, Plant Shield, and Soilgard. You can also try this homemade recipe: Dissolve 1-1/2 uncoated aspirins in 2 gallons of water and spray on plants every three weeks. The addition of yucca extract or mild liquid soap helps the solution adhere to leaves.
Ripening now, blackberries are a rich mix of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Although making jams and jellies out of them is seductive, be sure to simply freeze some of them to add to your morning cereal this winter. Spread them out on a baking sheet and freeze, then pack into Ziploc freezer bags. One of the best varieties of blackberries for the home gardener is 'Triple Crown', a thornless variety that produces large, flavorful fruit. Mulch the plants to keep the soil evenly moist and prevent weed growth.
The best indication of when to harvest garlic is the remaining number of green leaves. These represent the number of layers wrapping the garlic bulb. Ideally, there should be six green leaves at harvest for both softneck and hardneck types of garlic, as several bulb-wrapping layers will be lost during cleaning and handling. Carefully dig the garlic so as not to injure the bulbs, then spread the plants out (tops still on) on a screen in a dry, shaded place. Allow to dry thoroughly for about two weeks, then cut off the tops and roots to about 1/2 inch. Store in a dark, cool place.
Start Thinking About Bulbs
Catalogs for ordering bulbs to plant this fall for blooms next spring have already started to arrive. Studying these catalogs is a good way to learn about choosing and growing bulbs. For a list of mail-order sources of bulbs, visit the Mailorder Gardening Association (http://www.mailordergardening.com/catlist.cfm?c=cat1a). For more information about bulbs, go to the Web site of the Netherlands Flower Bulb Information Center (http://www.bulb.org). When selecting bulbs to grow, be sure to try some of the smaller, early-blooming bulbs like crocuses, snowdrops, and iris.
Plan for Fall and Winter Vegetables
Start seeds indoors of cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower for transplanting out later. You can also begin planting other fall crops, such as kale, lettuce, kohlrabi, and spinach, directly into the garden. Planting can continue over the next month or so. Just be sure to keep the area watered after planting to ensure good germination of crops. To prolong the harvest after frost, plan for cold frames or other shelters to protect crops.