The rain has brought good business to nurseries. A lot of vegetables planted in May have turned yellow, then brown, then succumbed.

It’s time to replant your garden, advises the University of Maine Extension Service. True, we’re way past Memorial Day. We’re past July 4. But there’s still enough time to try growing again.”I would recommend folks who can, get in a garden this week if their soil isn’t too wet and they don’t have disease problems,” said agricultural educator Tori Jackson of the Lisbon Falls extension office. “We still have got a good deal of summer, and it’s cheaper to grow vegetables than to buy them.”

July, August and early September are good growing weeks. A frost isn’t expected until Sept. 17 or 18.

For the money, planting tomatoes and cucumbers will give you the best return, but potatoes, pumpkins and corn can be bought cheaper from the farmer.

Whether it’s cheaper to replant or buy, Jackson said take into account how much you’ve already spent, what more it will take to re-establish a garden, and compare that to what you’d spend on fresh produce if you didn’t grow yourself.

“You will still save money by growing your own tomatoes, especially if you plan to grow enough for fresh consumption and canning and freezing,” she said.

The biggest problem now may be with finding tomato plants, since most nurseries don’t plan on selling them in July.

Two local nurseries contacted Tuesday said they still have some.

Elmer Whiting of Farmer Whiting’s in Auburn has a fair supply of tomato plants and cucumber plants. Provencher Landscape and Nursery in Lewiston also has tomato plants. “It’s just very limited on varieties,” Roger Roberge said.

Jackson also recommends planting cucumbers, radishes, lettuce, spinach, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and string beans if the weather dries. “String beans don’t like wet weather.”
There isn’t time to grow melons, pumpkins and Brussels sprouts.

If the plants in your garden are yellow or limp from too much water, “there’s still hope,” Jackson said. They could recover if they haven’t started to turn brown or black.

Don’t replant if you have standing water. “You risk compaction. When the soil gets wet and muddy it gets compacted.” Standing on compacted soil risks harming the soil structure. “If it’s wet stay off it. Wait until it get reasonably dry, when you’re not sinking in.”

Another good way to garden this year is with a raised bed with drainage. You can make a raised bed by first putting on large rocks to provide drainage, then piling dirt on top, then planting. A frame made of boards would work, but a border isn’t necessary.

When buying plants, be careful not to buy those with blight, a disease that can get into and contaminate the soil. Blight was brought into Maine this year by plants in big box stores, Jackson said. Before buying, inspect plants (tomatoes, egg plants or pepper plants) to make sure there’s no dark green spots. Advanced blight turns plants black.

Because of the tough economy more people are gardening this year. “The number of calls I’ve gotten from first-time gardeners has dramatically increased,” Jackson said.

Consumers are also more interested in the buy-local movement, knowing where their food came from and concerned with food safety, she said.

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