Veggie garden update

Our vegetable garden is coming along nicely in this heat. These days, we're picking pole beans, onions, summer squash, tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, artichokes, Swiss chard and beets.

The corn patch continues to astound me with its exuberance. Each plant is about 7 feet tall and covered with developing ears of corn. It should be ready to pick in about 2 weeks. If you click on the photo above, you'll see the corn patch in the background, behind the greenhouse.

I'm enjoying having sunflowers in the garden this year, after many years of not making room for them. They look so perky with their brightly-colored blossoms. Bees just love them.

We recently harvested our garlic patch and have them hanging up to dry in a shed. Once they're dry, we can store the bulbs in our basement. Since the garlic bed is now empty, I can plant some sort of fall crop although I haven't decided which one yet. But I always hate to see an empty bed that could be producing something!

The winter squash have been going berserk in one of our new raised beds. The plants are huge and there are a lot of developing squash on the vines. Since it is now August, I'm started to pinch back the ends of the vines so they will focus their energy on ripening the existing squash.

I've done the same with our tomato plants since they need to work on ripening their fruit now as well. So if you have the chance, consider nipping back the top branches of your tomatoes and snipping off the tips of the squash or cucumber vines.

The only insect problem we've been having is the occasional earwig (or two or three) in the developing artichokes along with some aphids. That's annoying. We can blast the aphids off with a strong jet of water from the hose but the earwigs are trickier to deal with since they tend to burrow in the leaves.

Whenever my husband Bill brings artichokes indoors to cook, he soaks them in a saltwater bath for about 20 minutes. That makes any hiding earwigs come out, then we can dispatch 'em.

I've heard of two ways to deal with earwigs out in the garden. One is to place damp cardboard on the surface of the soil. They tend to hide within the layers and under them. In the morning, you just discard the cardboard if you can see some in there.

The other method comes from Oregon State University. You fill a small container (like an empty can of cat food or a small take-out salad dressing container) with vegetable oil and sink it into the ground so the lip is at the soil surface. Apparently, earwigs are attracted to it, fall in and drown. A friend of mine who has a terrible problem with earwigs uses this method and has caught a ton of them in her containers.

I have been trying this method for a couple of weeks but haven't had a lot of success with it yet although one of them has caught a bunch of tiny ants. Will keep you posted on how it works with earwigs.