Second Season Vegetable Garden

The August garden is a jumble of flowering plants including some great mullein or common mullein weed (Verbascum). Photo (c) Hilda M. Morrill
The August garden is a jumble of flowering plants including some great mullein or common mullein weed (Verbascum). Photo (c) Hilda M. Morrill

For many gardeners “summer is starting to wrap up,” and for some it’s time to plant their “second-season vegetable garden.” Incredibly, we still have some green daffodil spring foliage that we’re not removing, just to see how long it will last. We usually prune it all about six weeks after the daffies bloom.

Some of the Kousa dogwoods still have white blossoms alongside the emerging green berries. And, some of the azaleas are re-blooming.

The hostas are beautiful, their blossoms attracting many bees and humming birds. As the blossoms die off, the bare stems get trimmed out. Many of the daylilies are still blooming. The self-seeded volunteer verbenas (Verbena bonariensis) are outstanding with purple blooms attracting bees, moths and butterflies.

Speaking of butterflies, the Monarchs have returned and they are a joy to behold. As in previous years, their favorite destination is our butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii), also known as summer lilac. Sadly, the butterfly bush seedling I moved and planted last year (near our umbrella table and chairs to better enjoy our winged friends) did not make it through the harsh winter. I’m on the lookout for new seedlings but none spotted yet. Some gardeners report that their butterfly bushes are invasive, self seeding all over the place. Ours (don’t know the variety name) has behaved so far.

Also blooming profusely is the Russian sage (Perovskia), which we did not trim as in past years to test our new lazy-gardener mode (along with no peony cages, etc.). Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea as some of the sprays of blossoms have fallen on adjacent plants and have had to be trimmed off anyway.

In some areas, the plants have been left alone to battle it out. Especially pretty is the bed featuring the black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia), purple coneflowers (Echinacea) and Shasta daisies (Leucanthemum). Once tidy and neat perennials evenly spaced, they are now battling it out, and it appears the black-eyed Susans are winning. However, they are easy enough to control by weeding them out where they’re not wanted. I’m hesitant to trim off the faded blossoms because the finches love to feast on the seeds. So, they’re free to seed around, even in our “so-called” lawn. We even have a lovely looking great mullein or common mullein weed (Verbascum) that a neighbor recently admired .

In the vegetable garden we’re harvesting radishes, lettuce, tomatoes and zucchini along with parsley and perennial chives. The cucumbers and pole beans are full of blossoms. Admittedly, we were very late sowing our seeds this year.

The “container” corn is doing well, although an animal knocked some of it down and chewed on the stalks. Container corn is new for us, and basically this is a test to see how it performs. We have been very pleased the last couple of years planting container zucchini seeds. The plants seem to “behave” better requiring less space in our small garden.

So, this weekend we’ll seed our second-season vegetable garden: lettuces, spinach and kale in between the tomato cages and wherever else there’s space right now. Hopefully, by the end of September or beginning of October we’ll be able to harvest some fresh greens that will not be affected by cooler nights or (Yikes!) light frosts.