By Eugene Magazine

Strawberry Fields Forever

Oregon strawberries are one of summer’s most delicious delights. Sweet, juicy, and so much better than store-bought, your strawberries need some summer TLC to be their best. Strawberries need 6-10 hours a day of direct sunlight and well-drained soil. Raised beds are a good option for strawberries. In the first year, pick off blossoms to discourage plants from fruiting. This will help with healthy root growth. Water one inch per week and when the growing season is done mow the plant down to one inch and cover with 4 inches of mulch.

Ready for Winter

Although you’re enjoying the warmth of summer, it’s not too soon to plan your winter vegetable garden. Wherever you have vacant space in the vegetable garden, plant kale, Brussels sprouts, turnips, parsnips, parsley, bush beans, carrots, cauliflower, and Chinese cabbage. As long as the crops are protected, they should survive through the winter. Some vegetables, like sweet corn and carrots, are actually sweeter when harvested during the fall when they get a mix of warm days and cool nights. Your winter garden will need to be planted in the warmest spot in your garden to maximize sun exposure. Because of heavy rains, winter gardens need to be planted in soil with good drainage. In a raised bed, add an extra layer of compost or aged manure to add nutrients back into the soil. But don’t plant too early—young plants cannot survive in the heat. You can, however, start your seeds indoors by placing them between two layers of damp paper towels that then go into a sealed plastic bag. Keep the bag in a warm spot until the seeds germinate.

Aphid Control

If you see tiny white bugs crawling all over your broccoli or kale, you have aphids in your garden. Aphids multiply quickly so it’s best to get them under control as quickly as possible. Sometimes just a quick hose down will get rid of the pesky buggers. For more problematic bunches, try sprinkling flour on your plants. This will constipate the aphids. Another option is to make insecticidal soap of 1 quart water, 1 teaspoon liquid dish soap, and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Reapply the soap every 2-3 days for 2 weeks.

Water Works

Plants need the proper amount of water to fully thrive. That amount can vary depending on the type of plant you are working with and the type of soil that it’s in. Germinating seeds need to be kept moist and watered gently so they don’t wash away. More developed plants need a deeper watering, around 6 inches. Let the top inch or two completely dry out before watering again. Crops like lettuce, beans, and beets draw moisture from the top foot of soil. A good soak works well for these plants. Don’t water again until they show signs of distress, like wilting during the hottest part of the day.