Watch your plants closely during these hot, summer days. A little dark sun scorch spot could develop on some leaves, the edges could become a bit yellow or brown and the foliage can begin to wilt. The trick here is to water before the signs actually show on the plants. Once a plant is wilted from dryness it can recover quickly from a good “drink” but it has been stressed and that is not a good thing. Insects and disease generally could attack a stressed plant as opposed to one that is healthy.
Water when it is required and when you are able. Morning watering is said to be best as the plants have a chance to dry before lower evening temperatures can attract fungus. Evening watering is also acceptable, as the sun is not evaporating the surface moisture as it does when watering occurs in mid-day. In any case, don’t worry about it! Again, when watering is required, do it, regardless of the time of day.
While working in your garden, it is a good idea to gain some knowledge about insects in general and the variety of pollinators. Insects belong in our gardens. We would all be better off to learn to attract them than to spend the time and money that many gardeners do to repel them. A garden really wouldn’t be much of a garden without them. In themselves, insects are not “good” or “bad”, “pests” or “beneficials”. They are simply living their lives in an effort to survive and reproduce. They are, for the most part, simply “doing their thing” in our gardens. We love birds in our gardens (well, maybe, when they are not eating our berries or grapes) and most of our favorites eat insects. Thousands of insects (many that cannot be seen with the naked eye) are constantly recycling organic matter directly in the garden soil. Insects also carry out the bulk of the pollination of our flowers. True, certain plants reproduce without pollination but most flowers are the result of the insect’s work. The more diversified our gardens are planted, the more we can look forward to attracting and sheltering the myriad of insects that will keep our gardens somewhat in balance.
August is a good time to plant for a fall harvest, especially in containers if you don’t have much room. Lettuce, salad greens, radishes, carrots, kale, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower and kohlrabi are all good candidates. Don’t forget fish fertilizer on seedlings twice a week. “Cut and come again” greens such as leaf lettuces, arugula, mustard, etc. will give you delicious mesclun all fall and into the winter. Since this is still the heat of the summer, seeds should be sown in a partly shaded spot so the soil doesn’t get too warm.
Don’t forget Swiss chard. The “Bright Lights’ varieties will be delicious as the weather gets cooler and the many colors will look beautiful whether in containers or in garden borders. Harvesting this month should include raspberries, melons, tomatoes, squash, peppers, artichokes, onions, sweet corn, eggplant, beans, kohlrabi, strawberries and beets… WOW!
Prune your herbs now if they are getting out of hand. Catnip, rosemary and basil especially so they don’t flower. Deadhead your perennials. Check your asparagus bed for weeds and mulch. Start planning for drip irrigation next year if you don’t have it installed. Remember, you can do a section at a time if the entire garden area seems overwhelming.
Start thinking about fall lawn treatment. August 15th to September 15th is the best time to seed (or over-seed) your lawn. It wouldn’t hurt to fertilize roses now for fall blooming. Check your compost. It could use turning this month and make sure it is kept damp-not dried out.
If you have space in the garden that is not going to be planted for a fall harvest, plant a cover crop such as buckwheat. Also, nemagone marigold seeds can be planted as a cover crop for next year’s tomatoes. They will bloom beautifully throughout the fall season until frost. You can let them stay in their bed all winter to decompose.