Late summer is a difficult period for plants as temperatures can be either hot or cool from one day to the next. This makes things difficult for plants trying to focus on flowering or setting fruit. Further, sunlight levels are dropping, nighttime lows can be cold, and humidity levels are high. It all leaves the plants stressed and susceptible to many different issues.
As a result, you often deal with sunlight deprivation, pest infestations (hello cucumber beetles, squash bugs, and flea beetles), and fungal disease. If you’re like me, your instinct is to go immediately to your pest control arsenal and manage the pests to get every last unit of harvest. However, before you spend a lot of time, take a step back and do a cost-benefit analysis.
You may win the battle if you tackle the pests using the different pruning, spraying, scraping, and even vacuuming techniques discussed in previous newsletters. However, how much effort will that take, and how much harvest will you get out of the plants? If the plants are old, it’s often better to remove and bag them (thereby eliminating the pests/disease from your garden) and start new plants for a fall harvest.
There are still opportunities to use every space in your garden to get another complete harvest. The key is to assess how much harvest you’ll get from the next crop versus how much you’ll be forgoing by removing the existing veggies. There’s no shame in pulling everything early and forsaking some of the harvest if it means getting a more fulsome harvest of the next crop!