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A fall harvest awaits Vermont gardeners who can replant certain crops now

A wooden crate on a grassy lawn is full of garden vegetables, like beets, potatoes tomatoes, carrots and cucumbers.
After your home garden had some flooding or if it hasn't produced well so far this summer, try planting or replanting now. Leafy greens like lettuces and arugula and root crops like beets and carrots planted now will produce a small fall harvest to enjoy in September and October.

Many Vermont home gardeners are noticing that, even if July's floods didn't directly affect their plots and raised beds, some plants just aren't doing well.

And for those home gardeners who did have flood waters overrun their just-ripening gardens, they most likely need to begin their gardens again, from the soil up.

The good news for both situations is that, despite Vermont's truncated growing season, you can plant or replant certain crops for a small fall harvest.

Certain plants make great candidates for a second Vermont home garden crop: leafy greens, arugula, lettuces, and even some root crops like beets and carrots will have time to mature by October.

And with some crafty covering to buffer your burgeoning second harvest from colder temps in late summer and early fall, you'll be on your way to enjoying the fruits (and veg!) from your gardens and raised beds.

First, check your garden spaces. You might see some empty spots where the zucchini or cucumber plants didn't thrive or where the lettuces used to be. Use that real estate to plant the next round.

Fall planting crops fall into three groups: bush beans, zucchini and summer squash; leafy greens; and root crops.

Bush beans, summer squash and zucchini would grow best as a second harvest in warmer parts of the state.

Ideally, you'd have summer squash and zucchini transplants, but if you don't have those, still plant from seed.

The second group is an easy-care bunch that will probably do the best out of all the second crops: leafy greens.

Broaden your palate beyond lettuces and spinach, and plant arugula, Swiss chard, and kale.

Some nurseries and garden centers do have transplants that can give you a bit of a head start on the season.

The last group is root crops, like carrots, beets and radishes. Look for short-season varieties to try, like Mokum and Napoli carrot.

To plant, start off by putting down a fresh layer of compost, then just add in the transplants or seeds.

And here is the key to late-season, second-crop planting in Vermont: keep 'em covered.

Try using a gardening material called micro mesh. It's sort of like a flexible and finer window screen. It keeps the insects and animals out but you can see through it, water through it, the sun shines through it.

Then later in the season, as we get into September and even into October, you might want to use something like a floating row cover to protect them from frost, as the micro mesh won't do that.

Take these measures, and you could have some great crops for this September and October and make up for all the things that you lost.

A question about the best plant to add under a home's drip-line

Q: I live in a ranch-style house that slopes away on one side. Because it's a small lot, this Eastern-facing slope is my primary location for a flowerbed and a curated meadow. I'd like to plan something along the drip line that can take the snowfall from the roof in the winter and not be destroyed by rain runoff in the summer. Maybe a ground cover or ideally something taller since it's at the back of the bed? - Rachel, via email

A: The drip line under a roof isn't the best place for plants to live. If you plant right on the drip line, snow and ice in the winter could crush it and the rain in the summer could wash it away.

If you do want to plant there, go with more of the herbaceous perennials, and lower-growing plants that are bushy.

Try lady's mantle, geraniums and day lilies. All of these plants probably can take some rain coming off the roof and still grow. And if you can move the plants even a foot or two away from that actual drip line, that can help them out, too.

A new invasive weed discovered in the Burlington-area

Vermonters have noticed invasive plants like gout weed and Japanese knotweed on their property and in certain common areas throughout the state.

Those are non-native plants that can crowd out native vegetation and negatively affect the bio-diversity of native plants, insects and animals.

Recently, another invasive plant was found in Vermont. In June of this year, Vincetoxicum rossicum, or pale swallow-wort showed up in a Burlington back yard. This invasive also goes by its nickname, "the dog-strangling vine."

A European native, the pale swallow-wort is identified as an invasive plant and is growing in all other New England states.

The plant aggressively grows with a five-foot long vine and produces small, pinkish purple, star-shaped flowers.

Pale swallow-wort can be toxic to butterflies and it crowds out other plants.

The best practice is to remove it so it doesn't continue to spread. First, determine if you have it in your yard and how to control it by checking information, photos and tips at the Vermont Invasives website.

All Things Gardening is powered by you, our audience! Send us your toughest conundrums and join the fun. Submit your written question via email, or better yet, leave a voicemail with your gardening question so we can use your voice on the air! Call Vermont Public at 1-800-639-2192.

Listen to All Things Gardening Sunday mornings at 9:35 a.m., and subscribe to the podcast to listen any time.

Mary Williams Engisch is a local host on All Things Considered.
Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally recognized garden writer, radio and TV show host, consultant, and speaker. Charlie is the host of All Things Gardening on Sunday mornings at 9:35 during Weekend Edition on Vermont Public. Charlie is a guest on Vermont Public's Vermont Edition during the growing season. He also offers garden tips on local television and is a frequent guest on national programs.