A GROWING CONCERN: August gardening tips
WITH ALL chores I do because of the heat that still persists last week, I forgot to give you your to-do list for the month of August. So, let’s go through your to-do list for the last quarter of summer.
1. Definitely one-on-one.
Right now, it’s time to pinch and especially to tumble. Summer is declining, the sun sets earlier each day, rises later and soon the heavy dews will be on the ground.
This means that your flowers feel their time is drawing to a close and all the focus will be on reproduction and pod ripening. If there are no old flowers and no newly formed pods, then your plant is desperately trying to procreate and will flower even more.
So head off now, and several times a week, or your flowers will soon turn brown and die. This is the way of nature.
2. Sucker shoots are zero.
Especially with the hydrological drought we are experiencing, water tables and watering restrictions are stressing your plants, especially your trees, bushes, shrubs and, of course, the orchard.
Suckers, suckers, those at the base of the plant (at ground level) and those that grow along the branches deprive your trees of moisture. Sucker shoots suck up moisture and nutrients at an alarming rate. Just watch their growth rate!
They also rob your trees and plants of their beautiful aesthetic value, so please weed now.
3. Voluptuous fresh vegetables.
You all know I believe the Northern Olympic Peninsula is like Camelot: never cold, never hot, no bugs to speak of, and incredibly long and long growing seasons.
This means that you should be planting a new vegetable garden right now, today.
Start with radish, bat, carrots, greens, onions, swiss chard and garlic.
Look for starter plants like broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, cabbage, and peas. Our falls are beautiful and Jack Frost’s visit is only scheduled for late October or early November.
The best salad is the one you grow organically.
4. Delay the size?
You have a choice: prune today (no later than this week) by removing stray branches, unmanageable shoots against your home or outbuildings, the ones you see or scratch against your fence or cling to your driveway – or wait until November.
At the moment, but only this week, you can prune. However, if you wait, the new growth that always results from pruning will be too new and tender to survive this winter well.
Now is the perfect time to do a last minute pruning.
5. Plentiful bone meal.
There are few gardening tips you can do that work better than applying a bone meal application in late summer. Bone meal is the wonder drug of the perennial bulb world.
Spread bone meal in August around all of your bulb plants, perennials, orchards, lawns, and flowering shrubs.
Bone meal helps plants overwinter and increases flowering and bonus fruit production.
6. Pull and plant.
August and early September is a time when many of your summer garden plants start to wither and die (unless you’re careful about dying).
So now is the perfect time to remove all the underperforming summer flowers and plant them again, with plants that will look wonderful in the fall.
Perfect plants to buy and plant now are garden mums, kale and ornamental cabbage, pansies, violas, ornamental grasses, fall flowering sedums, various perennials, snapdragons, carnations , the dianthus, Dusty Miller and one of my favorites, the coral bells.
By planting these botanical wonders now, they will be well “rooted” and thrive this fall.
7. Water well.
When you can, and according to local restrictions, deeply soak your fruit trees so that they do not abort their fruit due to abnormal drought.
Make sure that any trees, bushes, or shrubs that have been planted this year are also well soaked, as their root systems are still developing, so give them the moisture they need.
Also, don’t water your lawn.
8. Punish the plague.
Now is the time to tackle insects, slugs, mice, weeds and disease again.
As the weather begins to cool, dew points increase and sunlight decreases.
Let’s make sure that we do not return all of our hard-fought territory to these harmful invaders.
Pull weeds, grow crops, spread pet-safe slug bait, spray insecticidal soap, release an extra step of beneficial insects – and don’t give up now.
9. Buy bulbs.
Now is the time to order bulbs through catalogs and collect different types of color and flowering bulbs from many local plant shops.
This is also a great time to design new beds of spring flowering bulbs and then store them in a cool, dark place.
Do not plant bulbs before the end of October or November, however. Buy them now.
Plus, you’ll need those extra weeks to amass a large, diverse collection of bulbs.
10. Clean the gutters.
If you haven’t already, take out the leaf blower and clean your gutters while the metal gutter attached to your edge boards is dry.
Debris that has dried in the sun will easily lift off the gutter and help keep your windows cleaner if removed during the hot summer months.
Remember where the gutters always leak around the corner? Repair leaky gutters with a suitable sealant while the product is easy to apply and working on the ladder is safer.
Clean up debris where the gutter flows into the drain pipe which is filled with roof sediment and decaying material. Metal edges and asphalt roofs can cut your hands, be sure to wear gloves.
Work on ladders and roofs while you are cool during the day, and if you feel tired, finish the job the next day.
Accidents happen more easily when you are tired, so plan your activities accordingly.
Plus, with all of those chores to do, we want to calm down, drink plenty of cool water, and wear a light-colored long-sleeved shirt to protect our sensitive skin from the sun.
Remember we want to spend our money on plants, not doctor’s visits… so be well!
Andre May is a freelance writer and ornamental horticulturalist who dreams of having the counties of Clallam and Jefferson recognized nationally as “Flower Peninsula USA”. Send him questions c / o Peninsula Daily News, PO Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362, or email [email protected] (object: Andrew May).