Yard & Garden Report


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Maximize the Harvest

Gardens are at their peak. Maximize your yield by harvesting regularly and confronting pests.

Garden vegetablesMost gardens in North Dakota look great! Rains have been timely and the plants are flourishing. Tomatoes are ripening, the bean plants are loaded with pods, and the harvest of summer squash is overwhelming (Figs. 1–3).

Our gardens are at their peak. Now it’s our challenge to keep the harvest going as strong as possible for as long as possible. 

The first spots of blight are appearing on vines. It’s critical to keep the leaves dry. Avoid overhead sprinkling, especially at night. Deep, infrequent watering (weekly) is usually best. Sprays of copper or chlorothalonil can prevent most diseases from spreading. 

Harvest regularly, even if you are not sure what to do with the fruits. Regular harvesting will lead to higher yields. Food banks will welcome any extra produce.

Annual weeds can be a problem now. Cultivate when needed. Weeds lead to more pests and diseases in the garden—we don’t need that. One weed plant can produce hundreds of seeds (future weeds)—we don’t need that.

I hesitate to say it, but we must be prepared for frost. Frost can strike northern portions of North Dakota in late August and the rest of the state by mid September. Stay alert to frost warnings. Protect tender plants with blankets when the first wave of frost threatens and you can extend your harvest for a couple weeks or longer.

This is a good time to pause for a moment and consider all that is going well and not going well. For example, lots of squash vines have powdery mildew on them. We can avoid that problem next year by sowing a cultivar that resists powdery mildew. Did we space our plants properly? Should we mulch the garden next year? Should we construct a low tunnel or a raised bed?

Make a note of the first signs of any disease/pests. We can be more alert to them next year and be prepared to protect our plants.

If you have concerns about your soil, take a soil test now. This will give you time to receive the results and make any adjustments this fall. 

For now, let’s all enjoy the fruits of our labors. I’ll be enjoying a fresh salad tonight and a big slice of zucchini bread for dessert. Life is good! 

Written by Tom Kalb, Extension Horticulturist, North Dakota State University. Published in the NDSU Yard & Garden Report, August 21, 2016. Photos were made available under Creative Commons licenses specified by the photographers: j_arlecchino, Vilseskogen and ilovebutter.

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