August’s bountiful harvests can be overwhelming if you are not prepared. Be ready with freezing, canning and drying supplies so when the picking is plentiful, the fruits of your gardening labor can be “put up” for use during the winter. Especially with canning, be sure to read up on the safe way to preserve vegetables and fruits.
• Blossom end rot in tomatoes indicates uneven watering and a lack of calcium. Mulching and regular watering can help. Side dress with a half cup of lime around each plant if blossom end rot appears. Water in well.
• Keep weeding!
• Don’t feed herbs with high nitrogen fertilizers. Too much encourages foliage but the leaves will have less of the essential oils that give herbs their flavor.
• Prepare for your fall garden by removing spent vegetable plants, digging in compost and mulching.
• Get melons and squashes off the ground by slipping straw or newspaper underneath.
• Collect and dry sunflower heads for bird seed.
• Take cuttings of coleus and wax begonias below the third leaf set to bring indoors. Place in water until roots appear. Pot in fresh potting soil.
• Plant zinnia seeds. Plant on the high side of a bed or in a well-drained pot to help avoid fungus.
• To dry statice, pick when ¾ of the flowers are opened, and hang upside down in bundles. The remaining flowers will open during drying.
• To dry yarrow, pick when in full bloom. Hang upside down in bundles to dry.
• Combine perennials with varying heights and bloom times and colorful annuals to stretch your flower garden into the fall.
• Remove the yellowed leaves from irises and lilies. Pull out the spent stems, but save the seed pods for later.
• Deadhead verbenas.
• Knock off aphids and spider mites with a blast from the hose, a couple of times a week, until gone.
• Prune roses for good airflow. A bypass pruner will give you a cleaner cut than an anvil pruner. Prune to the first set of five leaves with an outward facing bud.
• Remove dead and diseased branches when pruning. Pick off yellowed leaves and leaves with black spot. Do not add to compost piles or leave on the ground.
• Prune back ilacs after they finish blooming.
• Order trees and shrubs for planting in fall.
• If you see mushrooms in the turf, watch for a fungal bloom to start and treat immediately. If you have an irrigation system, monitor the run time and spray heads and adjust to minimize the water accordingly. Use a sensor to turn off the system when it rains.
• If you are mowing diseased or weedy turf, clean underneath the mower deck with mild bleach and water. Keep blades sharp, so they don’t tear the grass.
• If you plan to redo your turf this coming year, research which lawn is most suitable for your area, resources and lifestyle.