August Garden Tips

Here come the “Dog Days” of summer. The phrase has nothing to do with dogs, or even with the lazy, hot days of summer. The term came from the Roman and Greek studies of Astrology, referring to the Dog Star, Sirius, and its position in the heavens. It rises with the sun during the month of August. The dog days are from July 3 through early September.

There are some flowering plants that really like the heat and humidity of August, including:

Fresh garden produce

  • Black-eyed Susan, which attract the butterflies, and the seed heads, favorites of the goldfinches.

  • Russian Sage, in its lavender dress, is one of the plants the deer do not seem to like

  • Thread leaf tickseed, or Coreopsis, are pollinators’ favorites and will bloom until frost

  • Yarrow is a drought-resistant plant that loves the hot and dry weather

During the month of August, watering newly planted trees, shrubs, and perennials is a must to ensure good root growth. Lawns will begin to turn brown, as the county generally gets less rain in August. Do not water your lawn—let Mother Nature take care of it; the fall rains begin again in September, and the lawn will return to its beautiful green.

It is time to stop fertilizing your roses.

Don’t prune evergreens any longer. Pruning now will encourage new growth that will not harden off before the first frost.

Begin to take cuttings of plants you want to overwinter indoors. Cut pieces at least 3-4 inches long, and place in rich potting soil, then move to a shady area in the yard. Keep them moist. Plants that do well from cuttings are fuchsia, geraniums, coleus, and wax begonias.

It is time to move your house plants that you set out for the summer to a shady place, preparing them for the move to less light indoors next month.

Here come the “Critters.” Check your plants for bag worms, lace bugs, Hemlock woolly adelgid, and fall web-worms. Bag worms are feeding on evergreens, and can be removed by hand and placed in soapy water; or you can find a biological product to apply. Always read the labels of products you buy. The fall web worm makes an unsightly mess in the trees, but they do not harm the tree. In fact, the worms are a great source of protein for the birds. You can knock them down or just leave them alone, because they will be gone soon. Check your garden, trees, and shrubs often this month, because with the hot and humid weather, insects are very active.

Lucky Us!!!!!! We now will begin to plan our second cool weather gardening season. Before you begin your fall garden, make sure to clean up the debris from the summer garden. Cool season crops are the same as the early spring crops. Lettuce, spinach, radishes, kale, turnips, garlic, and peas are good choices for the garden for fall. A little tip when planting peas this month: plant them a little deeper than you planted them in the spring, because they will keep cool and moist until they germinate.

Keep harvesting the herbs for fresh use and for drying for winter use. Continual harvesting will encourage them to continue to send out new, fresh growth, and keep them growing longer. Don’t forget to harvest herbs in the mornings after the dew has dried off.

Order spring bulbs--there are some real beauties.

It is time to begin to prepare for fall lawn reseeding or renovation. Labor Day is the indicator for a successful germination of your seed, and with the fall rains, you will be mowing the new grass by the first frost.

The last tip is to check out the county fairs and community shows in the newspaper and on line. They are fun and very interesting. See what folks are doing, and see the new varieties of vegetables and fruits. Continue to visit the farmers markets, and if you do not grow a garden, pick up some of those fresh veggies and fruits.

Article and photo by Dawne Howard, Master Gardener and FCFCDB member

Nature Note for 8/13/2017