By Phyllis Galowitz

“Lakeside property with waterfall”, is how I could advertise my house if I were planning to sell, which, of course, I’m not, and the lake and waterfall are only temporary. We’ve been luckier than many Andes residents. The heavy rains have not caused severe damage in the house. But all that expensive topsoil, mulch from the vegetable garden and the perennial beds, and gravel from the driveway is filling the ditch in front of our property, covering the culvert meant to carry off the water, and causing floods in the road.

There have been very few gardening days in June and July and I can only talk about the view of the garden from the windows. The phlox are just about to bloom (it’s July 12th at this writing), but some of them are showing signs of powdery mildew, caused by the overabundance of water. Last year at this time, they had the same problem. It’s not pretty, but it won’t affect the flowering and it can be obscured by placing other plants, less affected by the disease, in front of them (like dahlias which are late summer blooming). There should be adequate spacing between the plants to allow for good air movement. Powdery mildew can be controlled by spraying weekly with a solution of one tablespoon of baking soda dissolved in a gallon of water to which one-fourth teaspoon of liquid soap is added.

After perennials have finished blooming, they can be cut back, leaving some foliage. In late August, lift, divide, and replant Siberian iris, peonies, and phlox. Prune out the old canes on raspberry bushes when the harvest is over, to allow new canes to grow.

Did you know that tomato, squash, and pepper plants should not be over-fertilized? Keep them well mulched to keep the soil evenly moist and harvest the fruits frequently to encourage production. Herbs are best harvested just as they begin to flower. Harvest entire branches to within a few inches of the main stem to encourage new, bushy growth.

Check container-grown plants frequently and water as needed to keep soil moist. Add a dilution of fish emulsion or seaweed-based fertilizer to the water, once a week.

Plant broccoli for fall harvest where they’ll get a little shade from the hot afternoon sun and bush beans for a late summer harvest. Plant peas, lettuce, and kale, along with sedum, phlox, and coreopsis.

One of my garden surprises was the onion sets that I planted two springs ago and left in the ground last fall because they were so tiny. Now those same onions are growing. They have long stems with a beautiful, round flower at the top. I’ve learned that when the stem turns brown and flops over and the onion rises to the soil surface, it’s time to harvest them. They should then be air-dried for two to three weeks before storing. I can’t wait!

My radishes, sorry to say, were unsuccessful. They are woody and strong tasting; unlike the beautiful, sweet, crisp ones I’ve bought in Price Chopper.

I miss watching the birds at the feeders. We haven’t fed them all summer since our visit by a huge, black bear.~