Aug. 2013 To-Do List: MidSouth

Susan Wells

women weeding gardenThis summer has been remarkably wet and muggy, which can lead to disease in plants that don’t have enough air circulation. Make sure plants that are prone to blight or mildew problems are pruned so that air can get to every part of them. This would include tomatoes, crape myrtles, gardenias and others with dense foliage. This weather also provides dream conditions for aphids. Check plants daily for infestations and get rid of them by wiping them off (edible plants) or treating with a pesticide labeled for treatment of aphids (ornamentals). Aphids sap the plant and spread disease. Keep dense weeds knocked back as they will hold moist air against desirable plants.

Vegetables

  • Keep everything cleanly picked. Letting one or two cucumbers go to seed on your plant will stop it from producing. Same with other fruits such as tomatoes and melons.
  • Put plastic, newspaper or hay under melons in the garden to keep them clean, dry and worm free until they ripen.
  • Plant second crops of bush beans, cucumbers and squash. Squash vine borers have already come and gone, so cucurbits have a better chance of survival now, though yields may not be as high as with earlier crops.
  • Begin to plan your fall garden and start seeds for cauliflower, collards, broccoli, cabbage and kale.
  • Plant a second crop of seed potatoes (did you save any from your spring crop?). Till soil deeply and amend with compost, water in the seed potatoes and mulch deeply. Put the second crop in a different area of the garden than the first. Plant your second crop of beans where your potatoes were.
  • Fertilize vegetables from which you are expecting a second crop, such as bush and pole beans and tomatoes.
  • If areas of your garden are done for the summer, plant green manure such as vetch, clover or cowpeas.

Herbs

  • A note on basil: Downy mildew has begun spreading in basil and can destroy your crop. To combat it, thin plants to allow good air circulation and make sure they get plenty of sunshine. The fungus will not harm humans, so harvesting and making pesto at the first sign of disease is an option. Signs of the disease are yellowing leaves and dark colored spots (spores) on the undersides of leaves.

Flowers

  • Keep deadheading. Cut just above first set of leaves below the spent flower. Many annuals and perennials will bloom again. Weed, weed, weed. Mulch, mulch, mulch.
  • Divide Japanese iris. Plant lilies for next spring’s bloom. Sow pansy, columbines, daisies and veronicas. Cut back leggy, spent verbena. Shear dianthus of old blooms, fertilize and water. You may get another bloom.
  • Still time to sow portulaca. It will flower in three weeks. It’s also not too late to plant a new crop of zinnias to enjoy into November.

Lawns

  • Mow, mow, mow. Cut only a third of the height of the grass in each mowing. In rainy periods, this may mean mowing every week or five days.
  • Check the best height for the kind of grass you have and keep it mowed to that height. Bermuda, for example, looks best at 1.5 to 2 inches high.
  • If you have an irrigation system, make sure it has a sensor to tell it not to water when it is raining regularly. No need to waste treated water.

Trees / Shrubs

Image: Shutterstock/Iakov Filimonov

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