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Harvesting the fruits of your labour

In Calgary, August is the big getaway month for many families with kids. In fact, the city looks like a ghost town some days. However, in the backyard there is a riot of ripening activity on the vines and in the ground this month.

Tomatoes
In great news, the first cherry tomatoes are ready to eat. But leaves shading fruit delay ripening, so clip off any leaves just below and above the lowest tomato early this month. By the end of August, clip more leaves off stalks to expose all the fruit. Water in the soil helps nutrients move into the ripening fruit, so keep soils moist all month.

What do you do if you get ripe fruit faster than you can use it? Just pop whole tomatoes into Ziploc bags in the freezer. Frozen tomatoes can enhance soups, stews and even pizza all winter.
And if you’re lucky enough to have tomatoes and cucumbers ready at the same time this month, make Greek salad!

Squash
Summer squash like zucchini are a tasty treat from the August garden. The only tricky part is keeping the plant thinned out enough, so the bees can see the flowers.

Pollinated flowers grow into big squash, so keep an eye on them – growth spurts are looming. If bees miss your blooms,
the small fruits will rot before they grow large.

Thinning out extra leaves to clear the bee’s-eye view means removing up to half the leaves. Start by clipping crossing stems and leaves with brown edges or the first signs of white dust. This white powder is a disease called powdery mildew and it will be more common by the end of the month, so thinning leaves early keeps plants healthy.

Garlic
There is no single day when every garlic bulb is ready to pluck because it all depends on location and heat. Usually, a week or two after you remove the scapes, leaves start to brown. When about half the leaves are brown, it’s time to dig.

If the leaves do not brown, your soil might be too rich or too wet. In that case, dig garlic by the end of the month anyway. A garden fork is the ideal tool for this task, but make sure you don’t stab the produce!

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