Aug. 2013 To-Do List: New England

Susan Wells

dandelionsHas your garden grown out of control with dandelion, broadleaf plantain, and other weeds? Weeds fill a vacuum and any cleared soil will soon refill with more. To keep up, follow this simple rule: Once you remove the weeds, 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. To keep invaders from returning, try covering the area with thick layers of flattened cardboard boxes, then piling on 3-4 inches of mulch or shredded leaves.

Annuals

•    Many popular annuals (geraniums, coleus, wax begonias, impatiens) can be overwintered if you take root cuttings now. Grow in good light indoors and they will yield next spring’s transplants.

•    Let some annuals go to seed and sprinkle the seeds where you want them back next year.

Perennials

•    Dig and divide daylilies as they complete their bloom cycle, right into fall.

•    Peonies are best divided and transplanted in late August through September.

•    Divide and transplant bearded iris.

•    Prepare beds for planting bulbs and divide any existing bulbs that might be overcrowded.

Vegetables

•    Keep sowing chard, radishes, carrots, arugula, kale, spinach, turnips, beets and lettuce. For salad greens, sow a small amount every 10 days for an on-going supply.

•    Keep asparagus well weeded and let the ferns grow until a frost to feed the underlying crowns.

•    Cantaloupes are ready when the rind under the netting changes from green to tan.

•    Sow seeds now for a late summer or early fall crop of dill and cilantro.

•    Let your last planting of annual herbs such as dill, cilantro, caraway, and chervil go to seed. The flowers will attract beneficial insects and the seeds that fall to the ground will self-sow.

•    As summer crops finish bearing, sow a cover crop to help protect soil over the winter and add organic matter. Annual rye and oats are good choices that usually die over the winter in our region.

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

•    The best way to deal with Japanese Beetles is to handpick in early morning and drown in a can of soapy water to reduce infestation.

Trees /Shrubs

•    Stop feeding woody plants. It’s time for them to stop growing and start the hardening-off phase of their cycle to prepare for winter.

•    Water trees during drought – especially the oldest and the youngest. A Tree-Gator or drip irrigation are good choices for deep, thorough watering.

•    Keep your blueberry bushes vigorous with applications of sulfur to enhance soil acidity and soybean meal to provide organic nitrogen.

•    Most raspberry plants are biennial. Fall is the time to prune out the dead two-year-old canes that have finished fruiting. Thin the remaining canes, removing weak ones and any closer than 6 inches apart.

Lawn/Turf

•    Mid-August to mid-September is the best time for lawn renovation, planting grass seed, and re-seeding.

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

 Image: Shutterstock/Africa Studio

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