Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Things to do in the August garden

August:
'When one tugs at a single thread in nature,
One finds it attached to the rest of the world.'
- John Muir (1838-1914), American naturalist and founder of the Sierra Club

  • Tomatoes picked within five days after full coloring will be at their peak of flavor and nutrition. {I've heard not to store ripe tomatoes in the fridge & actually don't do that myself. I have a beautiful bowl on the counter that holds most of my fruits & tomatoes & they actually live there quite nicely for a week or so - no fruit flies & very little spoilage}  Cucumbers, snap beans and summer squash will continue producing fresh young edibles if the plants are picked often.
  • Early in the month TIP-PRUNE tomatoes, winter squash and pumpkins so that the fruits already formed on the plants will size up and mature fully. Make the cuts immediately above the first leaf stem growing beyond the last formed fruit or fruit cluster.
  • SEED lettuce, spinach, radishes and corn salad early in the month for fall salads. Around mid-August sow the seeds of spring cabbage and overwintering onions. {I just finished harvesting my beets - poor crop this year as they bolted - and will see if I have more seed to replant as I love pickled beets. Hopefully the autumn weather was better than the spring weather}
  • Continue to keep the garden clear of weeds, before they can form and shed seeds. {If you've been using the pulled up weeds as a mulch in the beds, than the weeds shouldn't be as bad right now - continue to use the pulled up weeds as mulch (only those without ripe seed heads) & fall clean-up will be a breeze}
  • Take ROOT CUTTINGS of geranium, coleus, impatiens and fibrous begonias for strong young plants to winter in the house at a bright window. {hmmm - root cuttings... I wonder if this means taking cuttings & getting them to root up in time for the winter weather. I tried this with geraniums last year, but a bit later on towards the end of September & didn't have too much success. We'll see....}
  • When cane fruits such as blackberries, tayberries and loganberries finish fruiting, CUT OLD CANES to the ground. Cut summer-bearing raspberry canes that have borne fruit down to just below soil level.
  • Brush the soil away from the tops of the ONION BULBS to assist them in maturing.
  • Prune LAVENDER bushes by cutting off this year's flowerstalks. If you don't they'll become leggy and unattractive. Also, be sure you don't over-water lavender. That's a sure-fire way to kill the plant. They need good drainage especially in our soggy climate. {I have lavender mostly in one bed that NEVER gets watered during the summer & the plants do very well. There is a rosemary, some thyme, sage, lovage, sedum, Oriental lilies & other spring flowers in the bed & they all do quite nicely. I've been busy spreading Spanish lavender around to all the other flower beds & currently am watering more frequently than I want, mainly because these beds are all new & the plants (shrubs, perennials, herbs) need to become firmly established. I hope the lavender survives...}
  • To help toughen trees, shrubs and perennials for winter, STOP FERTILIZING this month.
  • Allow selected flowers and vegetables to GO TO SEED if you wish to save some of your own seeds. Or, leave the seeds to feed the birds in the fall.
  • Gather herbs for freezing and drying. {I have about 15 different types of herbs growing around the property & they are all doing really well this year! I've started the harvesting already & hope to have it completed by mid-month so that the perennials have a chance to recover for the winter}
  • Towards the end of the month clean up HOUSE PLANTS that have spent the summer outdoors. Wash them well, spray thoroughly with insecticidal soap, and place in some sheltered area for seven to 10 days. Then repeat the cleaning and spraying before bringing them back indoors in September, before night temperatures dip much below what they will be in the house.
  • Late in August carefully LIFT SELECTED PLANTS FOR OVER-WINTERING (wax begonia, coleus and impatiens) to pot and have as winter house plants. Cut the plants back to stimulate fresh young growth, and follow the same cleaning process as for house plants before placing them indoors.

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