|From In the Garden|
Happy first day of August. Soon the kiddos will all be back in school and before we know it Christmas will be here. Another year gone. August's To Do list sees us slowing down our activities in the garden. But the cannas are still red hot. The bees are staying pretty cool too. These dog days of summer still require some work in the garden. This list is based on what I do in my Tennessee garden.
1) Deadhead plants, especially daylilies but also hostas. I leave the spent blossoms of coneflowers and brown eyes on the plants for winter interest.
2) Continue to harvest vegetables. You should have most all summer crops coming in by now. Start planning for you fall garden vegetables.
3) Water only if plants are wilted early in the morning and you have not had rain in over one week.
4) Begin planting cool season crops. You can begin sowing lettuce and radishes, preferably in some shade in your vegetable garden, or you can wait until September. Soon the big box stores will be filled with starts of broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. I would plant these right away if you have space in order to get the small plants off to a good start. I usually wait until early October to sow my garlic bulbs. Pull spent crops, especially corn to make room for fall veggies.
5) Continue to cut the lawn high until good rains return in September. I cut my cool season grass at about 3 inches. The extra length shades the roots and allows for better handling of heat stress in the summer. Cut your lawn regularly-do not cut off more than 1/3 of the grass blades in any one mowing.
6) Assess your garden for bare spots. Soon there will be huge plant sales at big box stores. Take the opportunity to fill in these gaps. Some good fall planted plants are: hostas, irises, daylilies, crepe myrtles, peonies, and mums.
7) Do not prune birch trees at this time. Wait until September due to borer activity.
8) Look for pests in the garden and treat as necessary. I have noticed tons of pests in my garden this year. One very destructive one is the sawfly. Treat right away.
9) If you are going to move any plants, wait until after they are done blooming. Be patient. It is also best to only move plants when the ground is moist and rain is expected soon. A good shovelful of compost and pinch of bone meal will help the transplanted plants get off to a good start. This step is vital to success in my garden.
10) If you wish, you can cut off old hydrangea blossoms, but I leave most of mine on the shrub. I like the winter interest. When you cut off some blossoms you can dry them to bring into the house for enjoying during the winter. Do not prune mophead and oakleaf hydrangeas. Only cut the old blossom off if so desired. The plants are setting buds for next year's bloom so if you prune now, you'll be sacrificing next year's blooms.
11) Edge gardens as necessary.
12) Keep on the weeds. Some especially pesky weeds in my gardens are grasses, pokeweed, and poison ivy. They must not be allowed to get a foothold.
13) Continue feeding the birds, especially hummingbirds. Keep their feeders clean and fill every three or four days with fresh nectar. I use a recipe of one part sugar to four parts water. Make up a pitcher so it is on hand, but don't let your teenaged son drink it-label it! My teenaged son drank a whole pitcher of hummingbird nectar. Quite funny!
14) Pick up and dispose of pine cones and twigs. These can be used in fun crafts.
15) Stop fertilizing roses and shrubs. You do not want to encourage new growth that might not harden off prior to the fall frosts.
16) Stop pinching mums so they can set buds and get ready for their fall show. A dose of fertilizer for them would be helpful.
17) Note: I do not usually recommend planting or dividing during the month of August but the recent rains we have had here in this area provide an excellent opportunity to get some planting and dividing done now. Just be sure you are able to easily water the newly planted plants should the rains completely stop. The weather man says we will be back in a summer pattern soon. In the meantime-enjoy this excellent summer!
I will add to this list as I find more things to do. If you can think of something I have forgotten-please let me know.
in the garden....
It's official, according to the weathermen in Nashville July 2009 will go down as not only one of the coolest Julys ever, but also one of the wettest. I tell you that if the south could have summers like this every year it would be so awesome! The gardens are doing so well that it has really been a gardeners dream here in my area.