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Cleaning up the summer garden

As the weather has changed some this week with colder temperatures at night and the days feeling shorter, I have the urge to clean up the garden. Which is a good thing to do-pull summer crops and make compost, weed neglected areas, mulch for winter. But remember some things left in the garden make great habitat for birds. Leave the sunflowers for a while and some of the perennial flowers also. Leaving some flowers that are beginning to look ragged but are still good habitat for the bees- that may take some deep breaths to tame your inner cleaning lady but take a minute and appreciate the birds and the bees. A bit of a wild garden does bring in the wildlife.

But it is also great to make room for cover crops, fava beans and garlic. All of which can be planted right now! I have talked about growing garlic extensively over the last years fall blogs but for new gardeners it is one of the easiest of the winter crops. It takes little care and comes out in time for planting summer crops in late May. Go back to last years Oct 15th blog to get more info about growing it.

Fava beans are the amazing multidimensional crop, they feeds the soil, have edible leaves and flowers and also are a delicious bean- which can be eaten fresh or dried. It provides great habitat in the spring for ladybugs, and gives your garden a lushness that few plants can top.

Wendy talked some about cover crops last blog, but they are great to incorporate into a garden rotation-even in small gardens you can do a few feet of cover crop to feed the soil. Think about taking an area that has not done well and dedicate a crop to feed the soil.

Harlequin-beetle-SaraI have a new terrible pest in my garden- I am pretty sure it is Harlequin bug and it is attacking the kale. It is red and black and about a half inch long. It has triangular markings when it is an adult but the smaller ones have less uniform markings. They suck on the leaves and make lots of little brown spots but some plants have them so bad that the leaves have just started to shrivel. From everything I have read the only thing I can do is squish them. First time in 25 years of gardening that I have seen them as a major pest. I have noticed them before but never really saw any damage.

Wondering if anyone else has had problems with them?