I see that this is the time to start a lot of fall vegetables, but they like it cool and my yard is like an oven in the summer. How can I do this?
One way is to start them indoors, even leaf crops like endive. A cool basement works well. When they're a few inches tall, you'll need to acclimate the transplants to sun and heat conditions before you put them in the ground. A good time to transplant them into the soil is when a few days of overcast weather are forecast.
You can also start fall veggies in your garden in the shade of taller vegetable plants that will be removed at the end of summer. If your fall vegetable choice tolerates some shade, then you can plant in a semishade location. Mulch them to keep roots cool as well as moist.
I have a wasp that likes to hover over just one part of my lawn — a damp patch of crab grass. Is it one of those mining bees? I don't see a hole. It's all black except for the abdomen, which has a yellow stripe and a brown tip.
Your scoliid wasp is targeting grubs, which flourish in damp soil. Irrigated lawns create optimal conditions for them every year, but most homeowners have had dry lawns during grub season the past few years and thus few beetles. For areas now getting plentiful rain, that means more grubs will survive to be Japanese or other beetles next year. Thus your wasp is very beneficial. This parasitoid lays its eggs on beetle grubs, so their larvae can feast on them. Scoliid wasps are, indeed, a type of mining bee, sometimes known as a digger wasp, that disappears at the end of summer. Its individual hole must be elsewhere in the vicinity. No control is recommended.
University of Maryland Extension's Home and Garden Information Center offers free gardening and pest information. Call 800-342-2507 or send a question to the website at hgic.umd.edu.
Plant of the weekBegonia 'dragon wing' hybrid
Begonia coccinea 'Dragon Wing'
While other summer annuals fade in the summer heat, dragon wing begonias are still going strong. This cross of angel wing and wax begonias blooms from spring until frost with minimal care. Drooping clusters of pink or red flowers contrast beautifully against glossy leaves. Very versatile, they can be used in borders but are outstanding plants for hanging baskets or window boxes. When given extra water, they can be planted in full sun, but they prefer shady locations. Deadheading is not required to keep them blooming. This plant will become one of your favorite annuals year after year.
—Debbie RiciglianoCopyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun