August garden chores
Photo credit: Baltimore Sun/Doug Kapustin
August is no time to hang up your garden hat.
It is hot and miserable here in the Mid-Atlantic, and we have been fighting a losing battle against drought. But, as our favorite task-masters advise us, there is still plenty to do in the garden.
Margaret Roach of A Way to Garden says that every weed we pull now is perhaps 100 weeds we won't have to deal with when that one weed goes to seed. Weeds also steal moisture and nutrients. Here is more from her August to-do list.
Water we must, but not the lawn. It will bounce back, Margaret says, and she is right. We have to focus on newly planted items, including young trees. If you don't have a Tree-gator, buy one. They are less than $25 and they can save the life of a young tree.
Stop feeding woodly plants. They need to begin their hardening off cycle.
Prune out dead or damaged wood in trees and shrubs.
As areas of the vegetable garden are harvested, seed a cover crop of red clover or winter rye. Cover crops can be turned over in spring to boost the strength of your soil.
Time to sow another crop of peas, chard, radishes, arugula, spinach, turnips, beets and lettuce.
Harvest garlic, but save the best bulbs for replanting in the fall so you don't have to purchase more.
Freshen your basil by sowing seeds or planting new seedlings. Basil gets woody this time of year and loses some of its flavor.
Now is the time to divide daylilies. Same with peonies.
It is time to order bulbs if you want to get the varieties you want.
Edge your beds to give them a fresh, clean look, and top off the mulch. That, with some deadheading and cutting back, will make your perennial gardens look fresh.
Make sure you compost heap is getting enough water. It won't "cook" if it is dried out.
This advice comes from North Country Maturing Gardener. She gardens in New Hampshire, so some of the items on her to-do list would be better attempted in September in the Mid-Atlantic.
Here is her advice.
Make notes on what you'd like to add to next year's garden while things are still blooming.
Now is the time to scratch in some fertilizer around peonies.
Don't cut grass lower than 2.5 to 3 inches in order to keep it hydrated.
Cut back the unsightly foliage of the bleeding heart.
Buy fall mums.
Treat for powdery mildew with 1.5 tablespoons baking soda, 1 gallon of water and 2-3 tablespoons of horticultural oil. Spray on plants every other week.