In order to calculate planting dates, determine the frost date and count back the number of days to maturity plus 18 days for harvest of the crop. For example, if snap beans mature in 55 days and your frost date is October 31, you should plant on or before August 19.
Begin direct sowing turnips, rutabagas and mustard the last week of August and again at two-three week intervals until the middle of October.
Toward the end of the month, plant cucumbers and squash varieties that are resistant to downy mildew.
As areas of the vegetable garden are harvested, seed a cover crop that can be turned under in spring to boost the strength of your soil.
Basil gets woody this time of year and loses some of its flavor. Freshen it by sowing seeds or planting new seedlings.
Harvest garlic, but save the best bulbs for replanting in the fall so you don’t have to purchase more.
Extend the flower season by planting more summer and fall bloomers such as petunias, zinnias and marigolds.
Bermudagrass lawns are growing actively and would benefit from an application of fertilizer. Be sure to water the lawn thoroughly after feeding to prevent grass burn.
Do not apply nitrogen fertilizer of any kind including manure, straw or sawdust to shrubs.
To increase the blooms of marigolds, celosia, cosmos, zinnias, petunias and impatiens, apply a fertilizer with more phosphorus and potassium than nitrogen, perhaps a formulation such as 5-10-10.
Apply fertilizer around peonies and scratch it into the soil.
Your container plants have been roaring through the nutrients in their soil. It’s time to give them a trim and a good feeding to help them continue to flourish.
Fertilize houseplants with a balanced fertilizer. Take them outside for a shower. It’s also a good time to transplant pot-bound houseplants into a little bigger container.
Pinch off onion flower buds from the top of the plants to direct all of the plant’s energy into the developing bulb instead of seed production.
Prune blackberries if you haven’t already.
Deadhead your perennials and bulbs. This can be a daunting chore so break it down a little each day. Trim off any parts of your annuals that need it as well. You’ll be rewarded with a new flush of blooms!
For larger chrysanthemum blooms this fall, disbud them now. Stake and tie the plants to prevent drooping and breaking.
Prune summer-flowering shrubs as the flowers fade.
This is not a good time for general pruning of shrubs. Restrict trimming to removing a few stray shoots.
Trim hanging baskets to prolong their beauty.
Make sure your garden has enough water in August. You know your flowers’ and vegetables’ watering needs, so make sure they are getting what they require by not skipping this chore. Irrigate early in the morning or at dusk to keep the water from evaporating.
When watering your vegetables, the golden rule is "soak not splash." Give plants an occasional thorough soaking rather than watering little and often.
If you’re thinking about growing a fall garden, remember you may have to water every single day, maybe even twice a day, to get the vegetable crops germinated and out of the ground. Straw mulch can be a good help with the water management - just remember not to get the mulch so deep the young seedlings smother. For all this effort, you will find, for most of our cool-weather-loving crops, fall can provide a better quantity and quality crop.
Do you have a problem with shoulder cracks on your tomatoes? This is when the shoulder of the fruit nearest the stem cracks either longitudinally or sometimes circumferentially as the fruit is getting close to being ripe. Shoulder cracks are caused by a sudden growth spurt most frequently caused by heavy rainfall or irrigation following even a short-term dry period. It is very important to maintain fairly constant soil moisture around your tomato plants. Use lots of straw or hay mulch and then water, preferably at ground level every other day if not every day during August heat. If the soil surface is dry for more than six hours under these high temperature conditions, then you probably need to water again. Tomatoes can handle high temperatures with proper irrigation.
Brown spots in your lawn? Check your sprinkler coverage of that area. It may be getting substantially less water than other parts of the lawn.
Water any newly planted shrubs and trees, but cut back water on established trees and shrubs by mid-August. They need to start drying out and hardening up for winter. A little drought stress won’t hurt them a bit. If you’re watering thoroughly once a week, cut back to once every 10-14 days.
Since container-grown plants have a limited area from which to absorb water, plants in a sunny and/or windy location may require watering several times a week. Check plants often to avoid water stress.
Look for cinch bugs, mealybugs, slugs and other August pests in your garden. Treat as required. Pests can really thrive and destroy your garden in August while you are hiding from the heat.
With your tomatoes, do you have a problem with little white specks just under the skin of mature fruit? If you dig down to these things, they are often the size of a pinhead and kind of hard. They are caused by the feeding damage of stinkbugs. Usually, way before the tomato ripened, the stink bug stuck his mouthpart into the tomato and took a drink of sap. Then it left and the plant responded with this callous tissue development to seal the location where the skin was pierced. There’s no way to stop stink bugs from doing this, but don’t fret, it does nothing but slightly alter the appearance, not the taste, of the tomato and you can still eat them with no problem.
Regular applications of Bacillus thuringiensis will prevent caterpillars from devouring everything in the cabbage family.
White flies are attracted to yellow, so use yellow sticky boards to reduce their populations.
To reduce the number of pests on your fruit tree for the coming year, pick up and destroy all fallen fruit.
Have you got hostas? Are there slugs chewing them? Try this solution, if you haven’t already. Combine nine parts water to one part common household ammonia and spray it on the hosta just before dark. When the slugs hit this, they will dissolve!
Silvery Mylar balloons like those sold at flower shops filled with helium will move erratically in the wind and can help scare birds from your vegetables or fruit … at least until they get used to them being there. Scarecrows, whirligigs, aluminum pie pans on strings, inflatable snakes and plastic owls work in the same fashion. If you keep switching these deterrents up on a weekly basis to where the birds don’t get accustomed to seeing any one object, you can be successful at keeping them out. Persistence will pay off … you ARE smarter than a bird!
Electric fences can be used to thwart the efforts of nocturnal critters like raccoons and deer … at least until the deer figure out they can jump them. Bright motion lights may also help keep four-legged critters away at night and a radio tuned to a talk radio station can also help. Human voices seem to be better at frightening away wildlife than music.
Don’t give your hoe a moment’s rest! Every weed producing seed means more trouble next year. Although it is easier to hand weed after a rainy day, when it is hot and dry, hoeing is just the thing. Hot weather will dry up hoed weeds and destroy them before they get a chance to re-root.
Don’t add weeds with mature seed heads to the compost pile. Many weed seeds can remain viable and germinate next year when the compost is used.
Practice good sanitation. Remove spent plants from the garden as soon as harvest is complete. Also remove and discard any diseased foliage now, so it doesn’t get lost in the fall leaves and get used for compost or mulch.
Treat for powdery mildew. Try this recipe: 1½ tablespoons of baking soda, 1 gallon of water and 2-3 tablespoons of horticultural oil. Shake really well and spray it on all the susceptible plants every other week or so.
Make some notes in your garden journal.
Take pictures of your garden at its peak. Take pictures of container combinations you’d like to repeat.
What a great season to have fresh, home-grown fruits and vegetables! Even if you don’t grow it yourself, you can buy produce grown locally from the farmers market.
Start planning your fall vegetable garden. This is an important August chore, as autumn will be upon us before you can say "heat stroke."
Don’t let red tomatoes become overripe on the vine. Pick them when they’re fully firm, not squishy.
Bunching onions is a sort of catch-all term used for several types of onion. The common factor is the market niche is for small green onions (scallions). On a commercial basis, "bunching" onions are non-bulbing varieties of regular onion (Allium cepa) developed for thick stalks. Examples are Santa Claus and White Lisbon. The other dominant type (Allium fistulosum) Welsh onion is a multiplier type. Also normally used as a green onion, but is more or less a perennial. The base keeps dividing into a cluster of plants. Popular among home gardeners who can keep them in dedicated beds.
Early apples will be appearing at farmers markets.
If you see mushrooms growing up around an existing tree, it shows there are dead roots and the tree is probably dying.
Are you remembering the lawn mower should be set at 2½-3 inches to help the grass stay hydrated? Cutting the grass lower will be very stressful!
Buy fall mums.
Cut strawflowers intended for dried flower arrangements when the blooms are only half open. Tie small bundles of the flowers together and hang them upside down in a well-ventilated place to dry.
Check that your mulch hasn’t decomposed and add more as needed.
Colorful plastic golf tees can be stuck in the ground to mark the location of dormant plants such as spring bulbs or perennials.
Order your spring-blooming bulbs if you haven’t already!
Make sure the compost heap is getting enough water. It won’t "cook" if it is dried out.
Many herbs self-sow if the flowers are not removed. Dill produces seeds that fall around the parent plant and come up as volunteers the following spring.
Re-edge your garden beds to keep them neat looking. If it’s too hot, save this chore for fall.
Start saving seeds and taking cuttings.