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Stay ahead of the weeds

Weeds are usually the number one problem, but for me, by mid summer Im pretty much ahead of them. Its the first half of the summer that its the most important to stay ahead of the weeds. By now your plants should be better able to fight for themselves. My delphinium are still flopped over, waiting to be cut down in order to re-bloom and my tomatoes are growing up and over everything. The new shoots that form now will never have time to produce ripe fruit before frost. Pruning those out now will direct the plants energy to ripening the fruit it has already begun forming. If you want a crop of fall greens now is the time to get them planted. Lettuce and spinach and other leafy greens like the cooler, wetter weather of spring and fall; they really suffer in the summer. With the later frosts weve been getting in recent years you can have an excellent fall crop of greens but you need to get them planted soon. The problem is these cool season crops like cool soil and our garden soil is far from cool in early August. To get these greens up and growing it helps to erect some temporary shade. You can either plant the new crop behind a taller crop such as corn or tomatoes so the seedlings can grow in the shade cast by those crops or you can set posts in the ground and rig up burlap or cheesecloth to provide shade. The seeds and seedlings will need frequent watering but their roots will be shallow at first so you wont have to give too much water each time. Amy Ivy is executive director of Cornell Cooperative Extension in Clinton County. CCE offices may be reached in Clinton County at 561-7450 and Essex County at 962-4810. More information may be found on-line at ecgardening.cce.cornell.edu or by sending an e-mail to a Master Gardener volunteer at askMG@cornell.edu.

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