Do the math. It’s now about four months until our average first frost date. I know it’s hard to imagine ever being cold again, but if you are thinking of planting more warm-season stuff in the vegetable garden, use this as your timeline. That’s about 120 days, which means you can still plant just about any summer crop except maybe sweet potatoes.

Pick some blueberries. There’s nothing like fresh fruit in the garden to teach you all about the habits of your local birds. Last year, bound and determined to actually get some berries before they did, I covered the bushes with bird netting. Well, it kept out the starlings and catbirds (which dive-bomb from above). But the robins, (which pop up from below) were able to circumnavigate the barriers and get in, but not out. So, while patiently waiting for me to come home and release them, they managed to eat every single fruit, uninterrupted by the starlings.

Keep ahead of the mosquitoes. It seems to take about three days of water standing before you can see those larvae, wriggling in anticipation of crawling out of the primordial ooze and enjoying a blood meal. Be diligent about dumping any standing water-- no matter how small an amount-- and treating the rest with mosquito dunks or sprinkles. I generally keep mine under control by introducing cheap goldfish into the mix in larger reservoirs bigger than 30 gallons, but not where they sit in direct sunlight (because it gets too hot), where rainwater drops directly on them (they get splashed out), or where it’s easy for cats to get to them. Marauding heron are rarely a problem in the city, but have been known to steal the larger koi, so just use the cheap fish.

Sally McCabe is associate director of community education at the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society ( and winner of the AHS Great American Gardener Jane L. Taylor award.