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Late Summer Gardening Tips: Managing Lilacs, Weeds And Homegrown Produce

Lilacs are just as stubborn as they are beautiful, but Melinda Myers' tip will help keep lilacs under control.

The Wisconsin State Fair is in full swing, and horticulturist extraordinaire Melinda Myers spends more time at the Wisconsin-centric celebration than most. The renowned gardener talks with Lake Effect’s Mitch Teich about what kind of gardening questions she expects to hear from this year’s fairgoers:

What’s with this crazy weather?

Gardening in a climate as fickle as Wisconsin’s can be frustrating. Myers says plant lovers complain year after year about the state's ever-changing weather, but our climate's variation has been especially noticeable this year. She says patience is key to weathering the storm; unfortunately, no one has the power to change the weather. 

How can weeds be prevented?

Weeds are the enemy of even the most casual gardener, and this summer's heat has encouraged rapid growth. The pesky plants are both heat-tolerant and drought-tolerant, providing a gateway to insects and disease. They compete for water and nutrients, and they aren't very pretty, either. Myers highly recommends mulching to prevent further weed growth and says the mulched areas of her own garden have far less weeds than in the past. For those who are unable to commit to mulching in their own gardens, keep on weeding!

How does one keep pesky lilacs under control?

Anyone blessed with a purple lilac patch knows the flowers are just as stubborn as they are beautiful. For those looking for a quick exit out of lilac town, Myers says it’s sometimes better to start from scratch. Completely removing the lilacs may be extra work, but the benefits are worth the effort in the long-term.

Are there any edibles worth planting this late in the summer?

Myers’ best advice to those wanting to chow down on some fresh produce: “Don’t give up!” she says. Zucchini, radishes and many other plants have lifelines that are conducive to the rest of the gardening season. Myers says to check the back of the seed packet and read the amount of time needed between planting and harvesting.

Gardening expert, TV/radio host, author Melinda Myers has more than 30 years of horticulture experience and is a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine.