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August superb time to ready gardens for autumn harvest

POSTED: August 8, 2014 1:00 a.m.

In the Southern climate, gardeners have a second chance to replant, add new plants and harvest vegetables as fall nears.

Here is a list of August activities to be completed for specific gardening topics:

Edibles

It is time to pick your tomatoes, corn, squash, cucumbers, melons and green beans.

Also refresh the strawberry beds. Dig out runners on the sides of the plant to create room about a foot wide for next year’s buds and blooms.

Water fig plants deeply now, as the figs begin to ripen. Harvest figs in the morning and cover them with bird netting to keep the predators away.

Check pecans on pecan trees for pecan weevils. Start an insect control method now if they are present.

Check all edible plants and trees for diseases and insects that can require time for control and keeps the bounty going through the fall.

Check blackberry and raspberry plants after picking them. Cut the fruiting canes to the ground. Tie back any new canes seen along the ground to a wire arbor. Training the new canes is important.

Seed a fall crop of veggies. Plant seedlings of broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower now. Plant radishes, beets, kohlrabi and carrots later in September. Remember to count the number of days from your planting date until the first frost date to see if there is enough time before the first frost. Around here, that date is Oct. 15.

Start plants for collards, kale and onions in a half-shaded area for setting out in September.

Pick fresh herbs for use right away and for drying. Harvesting them keeps them growing longer.

Prepare the soil for cool season vegetables. Apply fertilizer and prepare the rows for seeds to germinate.

Think about next year’s vegetable garden. Which crops need to be rotated to a new location? What improvements can you make next year?

Flowers

Cut back hardy geraniums to revitalize the plants.

Begin dividing perennials. Start with bearded irises and day lilies. Allow the lily stems to yellow and die back naturally. This restores the bulb for next year’s bloom.

Fertiilze annuals and container flower pots.

Order spring bulbs for next year, or force bulbs to grow during the cold months.

Trim and feed flowering hanging baskets to prolong their beauty. Take pictures of containers and baskets while they are at their peak to repeat next year.

Prune flowering shrubs as they fade.

Start saving seeds from withering sunflowers, coneflowers and black-eyed Susan for next year.

Make summer bouquets with flowers purchased from the local farmers markets or bring some of your own indoors for a beautiful display.

Make notes about the color combination and designs of the flower gardens for next year’s garden. What did you like or dislike about this year?

Remove faded Crape myrtle blooms and dry seed clusters. Water and fertilize for more blooms.

Fertilize roses with a 10-10-10 for new growth.

Garden maintenance

Water the garden as needed to prevent drought stress during this warm month. It is essential in August. A great way to conserve water is to have a rain barrel.

Select and prepare for new trees, shrubs and perennials. They can be planted now, but keep them watered well for good root structure.

Deadhead annuals to keep them blooming until frost. Leave some annual seeds to sow. They might make it through the winter.

Remove any diseased foliage on trees, shrubs and other plants and discard. Do not leave any debris under your plants for disease overwintering problems.

Monitor all plants for insects and disease damage. Make sure you use the correct insecticides for caterpillars, beetles, thrips and aphids. They all require different types and applications. Keeping plants healthy and catching problems early will eliminate the need for chemical pesticides.

Spread a midseason layer of compost or manure in garden beds. Add mulch where needed.

Stay on top of weeding, especially the larger ones that go to seed.

Lawns

Now is a good time to aerate and fertilize a Bermuda or Zoysia lawn. Water lawns deeply once a week.

If you had a tremendous number of Japanese beetles this year, you might get control next year by using a grub control on your lawn.

It is important to clean up, revitalize and plan for your garden. This way you can keep your gardens in tiptop shape.

Wanda Cannon serves as Master Gardener coordinator and horticulture assistant for the UGA Cooperative Extension office in Hall County. Contact her at 770-535-8293 or wcannon@hallcounty.org. Her column appears biweekly and on gainesvilletimes.com/life.



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