August is a pivotal month in the garden. We have a choice to continue to water, feed, prune, plant and keep things looking nice or we can just throw up our hands and let nature take its course. Considering the lack of rainfall, many of us have probably already done just that. I am going to assume that since you are reading this, you would like to know what to do to keep things looking nice. Here we go…
PLANTING--Contrary to popular belief, summer is an excellent time to do planting. While the soils can actually be too wet in the spring, the summer soils are drier and with some pre-irrigation can be made moist enough for planting. With careful attention to watering, summer planting is actually better than spring.
FERTILIZE--The rule is simple: feed them and they will grow. Plants need food, especially annuals, perennials and veggies. If your plants look tired and off color, chances are they need to be fed. Organics last the longest but solubles go to work the fastest.
PRUNING--Yes, you can prune shrubs and trees in the summer, just not severely. Go tackle the fruit & flowering trees and get the suckers out now. This is the perfect time to dress up your hedges too, just do it with some degree of moderation.
ROSES--Keep removing old blooms and fertilize every 6 weeks. Control mildew with your favorite fungicide (the systemics last the longest).
BUGS—It seems the suckers, like aphids, decrease in the summer and the chewers, like grasshoppers and caterpillars, increase. Either way they can be controlled with either natural or synthetic products, but they don’t work if you leave them in the container they came in!
DISEASES--Any damage from the spring on cherries, lilacs, laurels and who knows what else, is best dealt with now with the loppers. Cut out dead & diseased wood, fertilize and water to stimulate new replacement growth. Dew in the morning usually means mildew on our plants, so an ounce of prevention goes a long way in August.
LAWNS--Apply an inch of water per week along with some food and you should have a nice soft green surface to recreate on for the rest of summer. If you have let your lawn go dormant, then apply at least one inch of water per month to keep it alive.
VEGGIES, HERBS AND FRUITS—Be sure to harvest your veggies on a regular basis (zucchini seems to double its size over night). Now is the time to do a second planting of root crops like carrots & beets and if you have room, you can sow some lettuce. We will have transplants available this month.
WATERING—generally speaking, it is recommended that we apply one inch of water a week, but for established shrubs and trees much less is needed. Water perennials, annuals, veggies & lawns 2-3 times a week, shrubs 1-2 times a month and trees only once. To save moisture and control weeds, keep applying mulch to the surface of your garden beds.
Admittedly, this is an overview of chores for the month, so for more in-depth information come into the garden center or go to our website for past columns that deal with specific subjects.