august gardeningYour gardens might be approaching the harvest time this month and zucchini, cucumbers, summer squash, beans and tomatoes must be quickly approaching ripeness. Raspberries are plentiful, corn is tasseling, and annual flowers are also in abundance this time of the year.

Now is the time to renovate tired strawberry beds. Cut back foliage to about one-half-inch above the crowns. Thin rows, leaving only healthy, young, vigorous plants. Weed, then fertilize with 5 pounds of 10-10-10 per 100 feet of row, or an organic alternative. Water well and mulch with pine needles, straw mulch, wood shavings, or herbicide-free grass clippings.

Your garden container plants also require equal attention. Remove spent blossoms and sickly leaves. Cut back scraggly petunias, lobelia, alyssum and coleus. Strong new growth will be encouraged. Replace any plants that are doing poorly.

You can enjoy your container plantings for another two months or so. Be sure containers have good drainage and fertilize with a water-soluble synthetic or natural organic formulation every 10 to 14 days. Make sure the potting mixes are moist before applying fertilizer to lessen the risk of root injury from fertilizer salts.

Deadhead perennials and remove foliage showing signs of disease. Do not pinch asters, mums or boltonia anymore. Go through your perennial beds and remove any weeds and divide crowded perennials that have finished blooming. Think about adding fall-blooming perennials or annual, like flowering kale, or ornamental grasses to gardens with little or no fall color.

It would be great if you raise the mowing height in your lawn by one-half to 1 inch during hot weather. Leave the clippings in place, as they supply nutrients to the lawn and organic matter to the soil. Keep an eye out for sod webworm and grub problems. Never apply a pesticide to either lawns or ornamentals if the temperature exceeds 85 degrees F.

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