August Gardening Activities - Region 3
Gardening Tips for August
Northeast, Midwest and Central Plains Gardens
States in the region:
Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island
Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois,
Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa
South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana
Key Issues for August
- Conserve water as best you can. Don’t miss out on collecting any passing rain that might come your way!
- The loathed Japanese beetle continues to dine on many favorite plants. Options for control: Pick off adult beetles and drown them in soapy water. (You can use Neem to diminish the severity of feeding.) If beetle traps/lures are used, locate them far from plants that you don’t want the pests to eat. Also be aware that beetle bag traps can actually lure more beetles to your yard than you originally had.
- Get ready for grub season. The young larvae of beetles aggressively feed on the roots of lawn grasses through early fall. August is an ideal time to control large grub populations. (Note: It’s when you see 10 or more grubs per square foot that you need to treat your lawn.)
- Ticks continue to be a nuisance in outdoor environments. Careful inspection is a must at the end of each day. If you find a tick, use a pair of fine-tipped tweezers or forceps to remove it. Grab the tick close to the point of attachment, tilt the tweezers to get a secure grip, then pull back with steady, gentle pressure.
- If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the garden – at least during the hottest hours of the day. Help avoid heat-related illnesses by tackling chores early in the morning or after dinner when temps are typically cooler. It’s been said before, but it’s worth repeating: Always wear a hat and sunblock, and keep that water bottle filled and nearby!
- Harvest herbs! Make sure you get the most from these flavor-filled plants: Knowing when and how to pluck the bounty from each type of herb plant can make the difference between ordinary roast beef and a savory, aromatic meal!
- Ask a trusted neighbor or friend to take care of your lawn and garden while you’re on vacation. As a thank you, invite them to harvest and enjoy any ripe vegetables or fruit from your garden.
- Water plants as needed, avoiding watering in the heat of the day. It’s best to water early in the morning so leaves have a chance to thoroughly dry before the sun sets. (This helps avoid fungal problems in the garden.)
- Snip off spent flowers from perennials to keep them looking tidy. Now’s also the time to divide and transplant irises, peonies, daylilies, garden phlox and other plants that have finished blooming. (Be sure to water in all transplants well to help your plants establish a good root system as they head into autumn.)
- Take stem cuttings from your favorite geraniums. Use clean, sharp pruning shears or a knife and cut a 4- to 6-inch terminal tip cutting. Strip off the bottom set of leaves and stick the cutting in a rooting mixture of moist sand and peat moss. Be patient and allow 4-6 weeks for cuttings to root. Once they have, plant them in 4-inch pots. Bring them indoors when the danger of frost threatens this fall.
- Harvest vegetables at their peak of freshness! (Even though it may look cool, zucchinis shouldn’t be the size of baseball bats; harvest them when they’re 6-8 inches long.) Properly store vegetables after picking to help prevent your prized harvest from rotting or wilting away too quickly.
- Don’t leave ripening fruits on the vine. Harvest, then enjoy or preserve them before the birds beat you to it! Summer berries, like raspberries and gooseberries, should be ready for picking now. Not sure what to do with your berry-good harvest? Make homemade jam!
- Enjoy what’s left of your peachy keen summer – it’s time to take advantage of fresh peaches! Savor them now or preserve peaches for after-season deliciousness. (It’s a short season, so get picking!)
- Give your well-fertilized container plants an occasional leaching to remove harmful soluble salts from the soil. Flush the soil with water for several minutes, letting the water flow out from the bottom of the planter. (If you ever suspect that you’ve over-fertilized your container plants, repeat this flushing process.)
- Visit local farmers’ markets for deliciously fresh produce – and buy a little extra! Freezing vegetables is a great way to extend the tasty summer harvest season after cool weather returns.
- Provide fresh water for birds – they get hot and thirsty, too! (It’s also a great way to attract wildlife to your garden!) Change the water every day or so to prevent mosquitoes from populating. Since many animals prefer cool water, consider setting your water dish in the shade. Birds love to bathe in the summer heat, so don’t forget to keep your birdbaths clean and fresh as well.
- If you have more veggies than you know what to do with, give extra produce away to local food banks and soup kitchens!
- Sow vegetable seed of Swiss chard, various leaf lettuces and beans later this month so you can enjoy a fall crop.
- Swiss chard is not only delicious and nutritious, it’s a pretty ornamental in the garden.
- Lettuce is a low-calorie treat that’s high in folic acid and several vitamins and minerals.
- Green beans produce a healthy harvest, while the plant’s roots can benefit the soil with their nitrogen-fixing abilities.
- Continue to pull weeds. Eliminating those pesky plants now should reduce seed germination in the future. (Less weeds, less seeds – and vice versa!)