Lawn and Garden Life: August
Suddenly it’s time to really enjoy the work you’ve been putting in all summer.
It’s harvest time!
Of course, there’s plenty more you can do to ensure a beautiful fall and to prepare for spring.
Here are some action items for August, plus tips and ideas for your harvest.
August To-Do Lists
Your Flower and Garden Beds
There are plants that really thrive as summer temperatures heat up. If your garden beds are lacking color, try a few of these perennials that flower through the sweltering humid days of August. Not only are these plants great pollinators, but they are drought-tolerant once established.
Black-eyed Susan: Brighten your garden with cheery yellow blooms that are perfect for cutting. It’s a good choice for a wildlife garden. Flowers attract butterflies; seed heads are a goldfinch favorite.
Russian sage: Silvery foliage with lavender blooms. Plants are deer-resistant.
Threadleaf tickseed: Small daisy like blooms in shades of yellow, white or pink. Low-maintenance plants have fine foliage and flowers quite well until frost.
Yarrow: Drought-resistant color in the summer garden. Look for flowers in many shades, from white, to red, peach and yellow.
Purple Coneflower: Echinacea is easy to grow, it has a long bloom time and it will also attract goldfinches.
CountryMax Garden Perennial Tip:
Most summer blooming perennials will give you a better flower show if you deadhead spent flowers.
Plan Your Bulb Garden: Bulbs are extremely popular these days because for the most part they don’t require much water. Bulbs are easy to grow, and some varieties will naturalize or spread in the garden. Alliums, daffodils and some tulips are especially tough bulbs.
CountryMax Bulb Garden Tip:
Remember that spring blooming bulbs (Tulips, Daffodils) are planted in the fall, and fall blooming bulbs are planted in the spring.
Plant and Divide Peonies: Late August through September you can divide and transplant peonies and plant new varieties. It’s a good idea to get them planted roughly 6 weeks before the first frost.
Weeding: Continue to weed your garden. Weeds will actually compete with your plants for both nutrients and water. Make sure your plants get all the good nutrients and water by weeding out those weeds.
Fertilize: Fertilize containers, annuals, tender perennials and roses one more time. There are many products to aid in the blooming process. Jack’s Classic® Blossom Booster or FoxFarm® Big Bloom® are two products we recommend. In the garden, douse annuals and tender perennials with a dilute solution of Neptune’s Harvest Fish Fertilizer. Scratch a generous handful of Rose-Tone® Rose & Flower Food into the soil around your roses. Your roses, annuals and tender perennials will reward you with a fall flush of blooms that will delight pollinators.
CountryMax Fertilzing Tip:
Do not fertilize evergreens, trees or shrubs after mid-August. The new growth your plants push may not harden off before the frost, potentially damaging new growth.
Planting: August is a great time to plant perennials, shrubs and trees. Planting now gives roots time to establish before the harshness of winter sets in. Be sure to mulch. Water newly planted trees, shrubs and perennials regularly and deeply during the dog days of August.
Avoid watering your lawn during the midday. More water will evaporate than will soak into the soil. Water deeply and infrequently to encourage deep root growth.
Raise your lawnmower deck. If you haven’t already, be sure to raise the deck on your lawnmower to at least 3". Taller grass will shade the roots, reducing evaporation and withstands drought better.
Your Vegetables & Berries
Protect Crops That Are Still Producing. August is just about peak harvest for summer vegetables, so you should be harvesting daily or at least several times per week. If you experience extreme heat this month, cover your crops with shade tunnels.
Sow and Transplant Fall Crops. It’s time to sow beets, carrots, kale, dill, pumpkins, spinach, winter squash, gourds, and other cool-season crops. At this point, if you want to plant broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower, it’s best to use starts instead of seeds. Keep plants well watered in the heat.
Mulch. Mulch newly planted cool crops to aid in water retention and weed control.
There are some common-sense guidelines to follow as you prepare to harvest your backyard bounty. Here are seven tips to keep in mind.
1. Walk through your garden every day. Keep an eye on everything you’ve planted and watch for signs of ripeness. Those beautiful tomatoes can literally get ripe and then start to go bad in as little as 48 hours, so it’s important to watch closely.
2. Pick with care. One of the best parts about a backyard garden is that you can pick your food carefully, gently, and bring it to the kitchen with minimal rough handling. Don’t be in a hurry, because if you bruise the skin of your produce, it can lead to rot.
3. Watch your step. Depending on how you’ve planted, your garden may be dense with produce. Take care not to step on any of your glorious, hard-earned vegetables.
4. Make lots of notes. Experienced gardeners know just how much yield they get from various seeds and plantings each year. Knowing exactly what you planted and what you were able to pick can inform your decisions for next year.
5. Pick stem vegetables first. Lettuce and herbs are most tender when you pick them early on. There’s no fruit to wait for. So get them at their best.
6. Fruit can wait. Apples, tomatoes, peppers and peaches are all born of plants that remain after the fruit is harvested. They can wait until fully ripe on the plant.
7. Be real. Vegetables from your garden don’t look like the ones you get at the big grocery chains, which optimize for color and appearance. Your veggies may not be as attractive, but they likely taste better. Simply adjust your expectations and strive for what’s important – fresh, clean taste.
Every veggie has its own perfect time for picking.
Here are a few tips for the ones in most backyard gardens.
Watch for bright green, firm beans with no bulging seeds. Ripe beans “snap” when you break them. Pick beans daily using your fingers or scissors. Put them in the fridge right away.
Look for the tops of carrot roots peeking out from the soil. The ones at least ½ inch around taste best! Loosen the soil around each carrot with your hands or a trowel, then pull it from the soil by the greens. Wash and dry before refrigerating.
You want firm, green cucumbers, 6 and 8 inches long. If they’re yellow, they are past prime. Cut cukes just above the fruit, and harvest daily if you can.
Wait for the leaves to turn slightly yellow. Check the bulb size on one plant, then loosen the soil around each clove completely before carefully removing from the soil. Keep garlic in a cool, dry, shady place.
When the tops turn yellow and fall over, you’re ready to pull onions out of the ground. Let them cure in a warm, dry place until the roots shrivel and the necks become dry, then clip the tops and roots. Store in a cool, dark, dry place for up to two months.
You’ll find all this content plus a whole lot more in our new guide. Coming soon to a CountryMax Store near you.