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A woman gardening.

You can reap the benefits of your vegetable and flower garden by continuing to weed, plant, and pick during the summer.

Get the most from your garden

By Deb Brown, University of Minnesota Extension Service

From eNews, August 5, 2004

Regardless of this year's gardening successes or setbacks, this is not the time to slack off! Despite the discomfort of hot, humid weather and hoards of hungry mosquitoes, you need to hang in there to get the most from your garden. Watering, weeding, replanting--even picking--will result in increased vegetable yields and a showier display of flowers. Water: It's important to provide a steady supply of moisture to developing plants, particularly in hot weather. Uneven moisture is responsible for blossom-end rot, a common malady of tomatoes and occasionally squash. It also causes knobby potatoes and may also influence the flavor of carrots and cucumbers, rendering them bitter-tasting. Most flowers won't bloom well, either. Weed: Continue weeding in August. Weeds compete with desired plants for moisture and nutrients, and may harbor insects that will feed on your flowers and vegetables. The seeds they produce will remain viable in the soil, ready to sprout for years to come. Plant: Though it's too late to plant most vegetables, there are still things you can put in spaces where plants are no longer productive. Remove all traces of debris from the earlier plants and work some garden fertilizer into the soil. To be of value, anything you plant in August must mature in a short time frame. You should be able to seed kohlrabi, leaf lettuce, radishes, spinach, and green onions. You can also plant turnips and beets for their leafy greens, which grow milder in flavor as cooler weather sets in. Pick: Pick vegetables when they'll be most tender and flavorful, or in the case of tomatoes or melons, when they're perfectly ripe. If they get away from you and become overly mature, pick them anyway and throw them onto your compost pile. Pick off or "deadhead" faded blossoms in the flower garden, too. Deb Brown is a horticulturist with the University of Minnesota Extension Service.

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