We may still be waiting for that long hot, dry spell, but we certainly have no shortage of heat, unless that cooling weather that seems to be keeping the temperatures a bit lower in our area decides to stick around longer than expected. Since it’s likely to somewhere between the mid-80’s and 90 much of this month, focus on keeping everything, including yourself, properly hydrated. Save the cooler parts of the day for cultivating and weeding.
Mid-August is the very the last time you should fertilize any trees or shrubs this year. Give fig trees with ripening fruit a deep watering, and grab those ripe figs in the early morning, before the birds get to them.
Sometime this month, you should remove crepe myrtle seed pods, and feed your roses with a balanced organic fertilizer. If you have had problems with Japanese beetles, plan on treating the soil this fall to kill the grubs next spring. Continue deadheading your flowers, and prepare to divide overcrowded perennials and irises. There are two links below offering advice on how best to divide various types of irises, plus a third on dividing perennials.
August is a good time to direct sow seeds for perennials and biennials in flower beds. You still have time to plant autumn crocus and spider lily, and even some time left to order spring flowering bulbs for shipment in the late fall.
There’s still time to plant some early maturation green beans, cucumbers, and squash. This seems to be a peak activity time for squash borers, so be on the lookout for those and don’t hesitate to rip out infested plants. Don’t forget that there are plants that tolerate and even attract squash borers, so if you’re planting those, they’ll help with your pest management chores. Feed strawberries, peppers, and eggplants with organic fertilizers, choosing a high nitrogen content for the strawberries.
While you continue harvesting from the vegetable garden, you can also be prepping the garden for fall and winter crops, start seeds, and plant seedlings for fall crops. If you are growing fall crops, mid to late August is the time to plant root vegetables, such as carrots, and greens. Learn more about succession planting and how to keep your soil healthy to ensure that your garden is always productive. Summer cover crops are a great way to enrich the soil, so for next year plan to rotate a cover crop through planting areas or beds.
By the end of the month, the tomatoes are are probably petering out, as are the cucumbers. The winter squash vines will be taking over their bit of the garden, and there will still be a lot of insects munching on the squash and beans. Handpick the adults and larvae, squish the eggs, and spray insecticidal soap at dusk. It’s not clear that the bug population is dwindling, but we can always pretend.
Keep in mind the first frost date, somewhere between November 11 and 20 for Lawrenceville, so plant your fall veggies in time to be harvested before then.
Here are links for gardening calendars with information specific to our region.
Here’s a link offering tips on waging war with squash vine borers.
Here are a couple of links on crop rotation, succession planting, cover crops, and how to extend your growing season.
http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/summer-cover-crops-zm0z14aszsto.aspx?PageId=2#axzz38W9r5sbb (succession planting and cover crops)
http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/garden-know-how.aspx#axzz3AVjvxlTy (extending the growing season)
Here are several links offering advice on dividing different types of irises and perennials.
https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?pid=526 (dividing irises)
And, finally, here’s some advice from UGA on flowering bulbs that have a better chance of performing well in our climate.
http://extension.uga.edu/publications/detail.cfm?number=B918 (flowering bulbs that do well in Georgia)