August In The Garden
There are a lot of things going on in the garden this month, as the vegetables are producing, flowers are blooming, the birds are singing, and there are a lot of insects and pollinators visiting everything in bloom. Let’s look at a few things that pertain to the yard and garden.
Fruit tips—Peaches, pears, apples, and blueberries are ready for picking now. Delicious pies and other desserts can be made from the fruits. You can get them from local markets and orchards, or pick them from your own back yard. Select the fruit before it reaches its peak of maturity. If picking it from your own backyard, it will help to minimize problems with yellow jackets and sap beetles.
Insect tips—European hornets are active in trees and shrubs at this time. They strip the bark from the branches, (the lilac is often a prize for them) and when stripped, the branch will die. These hornets are large brown and yellow fellows, and they nest in cavities of trees, stumps, and woodpiles, and feed on insects. This hornet is a night flier! Continue to change the water in the bird bath and other outdoor vessels to keep the mosquito larva at bay. Check for mites on the ornamental plants—they are very active in dry and hot temperatures.
Vegetable tips-- Believe it or not, it is time to start the fall cool weather crops such as kale, broccoli, spinach, beets, and turnips. Be aware, when planting fall vegetables, more time will be required for the crop to mature, because as we head into the last of the month, light and temperature will be decreasing each day. Plan to use a floating row cover over the crops to extend the growing season and harvest time.
Lawn tips--Continue to mow the lawn at 3-4 inches tall. In the dry, hot weather, the lawn will turn brown and go dormant. DO NOT WATER! The fall rains and cool temperature will return the lawn to a lush green. Leave the grass clippings on the lawn as you mow, because they will decompose naturally.
House plant tips—Fertilize your house plants while they are actively growing and continue to monitor them for insects. Try to combine a few house plants with a couple of annuals in a container because they look lovely together with a different flair.
Trees and Shrubs—Fall web worm is a late summer pest. No controls are necessary. To be a good neighbor, break open the web, and create a grocery store for the birds—the worms are a great source of protein. Black Locust leaves are starting to turn brown because of the locust leaf miner. Locust trees put out new growth throughout the growing season, and are not adversely affected by the feeding damage. No controls necessary.
Soil tip—Get a soil test for your fall garden and your lawn. Fall is a great time to fertilize and restore the bare spots from the summer.
Wildlife tip—Hummingbirds are feeding on flowers and nectar feeders. Please keep them clean. You may also see a hummingbird moth visiting the nectar feeder as well as your flowers. Unlike most moths that feed at night, these moths feed during the day. Be aware that beneficial creatures such as toads, spiders, frogs, and turtles may appear in the yard and garden for a bite to eat. Sharing is good! No controls necessary as they are just passing through.
When you are having trouble growing vegetables or flowers, identifying insects or diseases, try going to the Home and Garden Center website at the University of Maryland Extension. That web site provides a lot of information.
Don’t forget to take pictures of the yard and garden in all of its glory, then grab a glass of lemonade and take time out to enjoy the earthly paradise you have created.
Article by Dawne Howard, FCFCDB member
Photos courtesy of National Pest Management Association and Oregon State University
Nature Note for 8/19/ 2018