Word for the day is cornucopia. The literal meaning is "horn of plenty."
The image most of us have of a cornucopia is a horn-shaped wicker basket overflowing with fruits, vegetables, and grains. It is a fitting image for this time of year with our daily harvests of blueberries, raspberries, summer squash, broccoli, cabbage, leafy greens, new potatoes, and cut flowers.
Most of what we harvest be comes the mainstay of our diet throughout the growing season. What we don't eat fresh, we preserve.
Not only do we have a cornucopia of garden produce now but also a cornucopia of educational programs designed to help gardeners cope with the copia.
For example, the Berkshire Bo tan ical Garden is hosting a series of three classes on "Preserving the Harvest: Putting Food By."
The first class is on Wednesday, July 11. Call the Botanical Garden at (413) 298-3926 to register.
In addition, the Western Massachusetts Master Gardeners of Berkshire County will be conducting these classes during July at Springside Park, 847 North St. Pittsfield: "Herb Garden Recon struc tion" on Tuesday, July 10 at 5 p.m.; "Using New Annuals" on Saturday, July 21; and "Veggies are Growing, Now What" on Saturday, July 28 at 10 a.m.
To register for any or all of these classes call or e-mail Carol May nard, (413) 499-0153 or cmayna@ nycap.rr.com.
Here's a cornucopia of gardening tasks for this weekend:
- Pick flowers for pressing. Place the flowers between the folds of a sheet of newspaper; the flowers should not be touching each other. Place the newspaper sheet into the middle of a thick book, such as a dictionary or phone book, and sit on the book for three days. As an alternative, put some bricks or other heavy weight on top of the book.
- Sow seeds of cilantro since plants from early sowings are now bolting (sending up flower shoots). However, don't pull up the bolting cilantro. Let the plants flower and set seed.
- Be sure to water container plantings, especially hanging baskets and window boxes, regularly. Apply dilute fertilizer each week if slow release fertilizer pellets were not added to the container soil mix at the time of planting.
- Look for powdery white spots on the leaves of a host of plants. High humidity favors development of powdery mildew, so increase air movement around plants by thinning out plants or some stems on plants such as phlox. Fungicide sprays containing either sodium or potassium bicarbonate are quite effective and safe to use, but do follow the label directions. Such a fungicide can be made at home by combining 4 teaspoons of baking soda and 21 2 tablespoons of Sun spray Ultra-Fine horticultural oil in one gallon of water. Apply the spray to plants in early evening.
- Groom annuals. Control insects, prune diseased plant parts, pinch elongated shoots, remove tattered foliage and spent blossoms. In addition, water soil deeply once per week if Mother Nature is asleep at the water spigot, and give plants a dilute solution of fertilizer about every 10 to 14 days.
- Remove faded flowers from roses. Spent rose flowers act as magnets to Japanese beetles. I don't mind them munching on the old flowers but they quickly move onto the foliage which has already been decimated by Rose Slug and Rose Chafer.
- Cover blueberry bushes with netting. Birds are plucking fruit from our bushes as fast as the berries ripen. Naughty little birds!
The seed can be used as a spice (coriander) or simply be allowed to drop to the ground where they'll sprout next spring. Italian parsley will sometimes bolt in summer if exposed to hot temperatures, so sow some seeds now for late summer harvests.