Let’s Get Gardening: August 2019

August 8th is “National Sneak Some Zucchini onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Day!” It’s fun and easy to celebrate – just wait until your neighbors have gone to bed, and put some of the loads of zucchini you’ve been picking every day onto their porch. They’ll never know it was you (unless, of course, you are the only one in the neighborhood with a garden, and you’ve been trying to give them zucchini every day for the last couple of weeks)! If you’re one of my neighbors, I’m just saying – if you wake up to zucchini on your porch that morning, it might have been me! But I have some really great recipes to share, too!

Jennifer

In this month’s issue of Let’s Get Gardening

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In this month’s issue:

August is usually a pretty warm month for us, at least in the early part of the month. It’s also normally pretty dry. This means we should be spending a lot of our time making sure that our gardens are getting enough water.

In your yard and gardens:

  • Don’t think that, just because we get a thunderstorm once in a while, your plants are getting what they need in the  way of water. Our plants need regular water, not just occasional downpours. Those downpours aren’t really very helpful for our plants – much of the water runs off before it can be absorbed by the soil.
  • Container plants need to be watered even more frequently than the ones planted in the ground. If they are under the cover of a porch or building overhang, they aren’t as likely to get the benefit of any rain we get.
  • Keep deadheading the annual flowers in your container plantings as well as bedding plants to ensure continuous blooms.
  • When mowing, keep the grass a little longer during the hotter and drier summer. Cutting to no lower than 3 or 4 inches allows the blades of the grass to shade the roots from the heat of the sun, and helps those blades feed the roots.
  • Trees and shrubs also need regular watering, especially if you planted them in the last couple of years. Newly-planted trees’ roots aren’t as deep as the roots of established trees are, and they are not as effective at drawing water from the soil. Young trees that are stressed because they are not getting enough water may not be able to make it through the winter, so it’s important to make sure you keep them well-watered – but don’t keep the soil soggy either.
  • I’ve noticed some trees in my neighborhood looking very stressed – what were healthy-looking trees just a month or so ago now have large sections of brown leaves or have dropped many leaves. There are a number of possible reasons for  this. I have read that some trees got super stressed by the polar vortex we had this past winter, so that’s one possibility. Another is that, when we got all that rain this spring, it encouraged trees to put out lots of leaves. The dry conditions that followed (especially in my area, where we seem to missed a lot of the rain that fell in Chelsea), could have caused the trees to shed some of those leaves because it couldn’t support all of them. Disease and pests are also possibilities.
  • Harvesting is the major activity of vegetable gardening in August. Keeping up with harvesting will keep your plants producing. If you don’t keep your beans, zucchini, cucumbers, etc. picked regularly, the plants will work on maturing the fruits they have, rather than producing more.
  • August is also the time to put some “succession” plants in your veggie garden. Beets, radishes, lettuces, spinach, Swiss chard, kale, and peas all can be planted in August for harvest into the early fall. Take a look at the seed packet for the “days to maturity” to determine how late you can plant and still harvest before frost (and some things, like kale, are even better after a light frost).
  • If you haven’t seen any signs of disease in your garden yet, don’t think you’re safe. Many things start to really show up now. The Michigan State University Extension Service recently sent out a notification that cucumber downy mildew has been found in Michigan – on the west side of the state, but it will be heading in our direction.
  • We are in prime garden pest season now. Japanese beetles have been eating everything in sight for a few weeks,  flea beetles have been leaving holes in leaves everywhere, and grasshoppers and many damaging caterpillars, such as tomato hornworms and corn earworms, are just getting started, as are things like squash bugs. Keep an eye out for these and other insects around your plants.
  • One last thing – keep up with the weeding! It is much easier to keep them under control if you get to the weeds while  they are small. Do a little every day or so, and it won’t get out of control. Of course, I say that having let a bunch of weeds get on top of me in one area of my yard (in case you can’t tell, there is a juniper shrub in there somewhere with the crabgrass, thistle, and plantain). So, this is a “do as I say, not as I do,” thing since I will be spending lot of time this weekend trying to get the weeds under control again in this area. Wish me luck (and maybe some slightly cloudy and cool weather!).

 

For the birds:

  • Be sure to keep hummingbird and oriole feeders cleaned out and refilled at least twice a week in the warm weather. Sugar water can spoil quickly in hot weather, which is harmful, if not deadly, to the birds.
  • Actually, regularly cleaning all bird feeders is a really good idea. It helps to keep diseases from spreading through the bird populations visiting your feeders.
  • Keep bird baths cleaned out and filled up too. Dirty water in the bath can be just as harmful to your birds as dirty feeders, and you aren’t as likely to attract birds to a dirty bath. Empty out old water, give the bath a good scrubbing, and refill it with clean water at least every-other day (daily is even better), and you’ll have healthier, happier birds!
More info on all of these tips can be found in our monthly newsletter: Read the August 2019 issue of Let’s Get Gardening

 

Happy Gardening! 

Join us August 15th through 17th for Chelsea Sidewalk Sales, when we will be featuring end-of-season specials on items throughout the store!

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