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Weekly Gardening Tips for Your Area


Aug. 2013 To-Do List: Mid-Atlantic

Susan Wells


Has your garden has grown out of control with thistle, dandelion, goose grass, and other weeds? Weeds fill a vacuum, and soil cleared of weeds will soon refill. To keep up, follow this simple rule: Remove the weeds, then replace them with plants or a thick layer of mulch. Start with the most visible or overgrown spot, where weeding will make an immediate impact.


•    Take cuttings from impatiens, petunias, and wax begonias, and root them in pots of good soil. Brought indoors before frost, these colorful annuals will bloom all winter in a sunny window.

•    Keep annuals deadheaded to keep blooming until frost.


•    Following a heavy rain, divide and transplant large clumps of daylilies.

•    To prolong flowering, prune back some of the long aster and mum stems.

•    Divide overcrowded peonies and bearded iris. Dust iris rhizomes with garden sulfur. Discard any with evidence of rot and dispose of in trash, not compost. Water in well and mulch to keep roots moist.

•    Deadhead phlox to force side shoots into producing flowers. You will have beautiful color throughout the fall.


•    Weed strawberries, then mulch with compost. Transplant extra strawberry plants to a new bed.

•    Keep picking kale and the plant will keep producing leaves until checked by hard frost.  

•    Cucumber vines that wilt and die are likely infected with bacterial wilt disease. Remove infected vines and discard in trash. Put only healthy, discarded plant parts in your compost bin.

•    Protect melons and squash from rotting before they’re ripe. Slip straw, newspaper or cardboard under them.

•    If early blight appears on tomatoes, keep the disease at bay by removing spotted and yellowing leaves.

•    As Brussels sprouts form tiny heads, remove the lower leaves to produce taller plants with more “sprouts.” Side-dress with compost.

•    As summer crops finish, sow a cover crop like annual rye or oats to help protect soil over the winter and add organic matter.

•    Sow seeds of lettuce, spinach, kohlrabi, and turnips for fall harvest. Put spinach and lettuce seeds in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks before planting to prevent hot summer soil from inducing dormancy.

•    Pinch off blossoms on your pumpkin and winter squash vines so that the plants direct their energy into sizing up the existing fruits on the vines.

Trees /Shrubs

•    August 15 is the last date for fertilizing roses. They might have one last beautiful flush before the season ends. As temperatures drop they’ll get ready for winter dormancy.

•    If the leaves on shrubs and trees have turned brown and dropped, don’t assume they are dead. Keep watering and look for signs of new growth and swelling buds. If stems are green inside (rather than tan or brown), they are still alive.


•    Let grass clippings lie on the lawn to return nitrogen to the soil.

•    Mow higher if it’s hot and dry, or don’t mow at all if the grass is brown and has stopped growing.

•    Use a core aeration machine to dethatch the lawn.

Image: Shutterstock/chinahbzyg

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