August begins the downhill slide of our gardening season. The weather has been brutal with heat but soon it will subside and will be a great time to perk things up in the garden.
Your garden plants are hardier than you think and there are plenty of gardening tasks for August. You can keep your flower and vegetable gardens going longer along with opportunities to get a head start on next year’s garden plans.
Many flowers and vegetables will revive and continue producing if you regularly harvest the vegetables while they are young and tender and with deadheading spent flowers.
Pick herbs for fresh use and also start to remove stems for drying. Most herbs have a more concentrated flavor if they are not allowed to flower and frequent harvesting will accomplish that. Harvesting will encourage them to send out fresh, new growth and keep them growing longer.
Make sure your mulch hasn’t decomposed and add more as needed. While organic mulches are meant to continue decomposing on your garden beds and help feed the soil, you do not want to leave your soil uncovered at the end of the season. Bare soil is an invitation for weed seeds. Many flowers like Cosmos, Nigella, and Cleome will seed themselves throughout the garden. You will be delighted next season with an abundant, natural scattering of flowers.
Remove any diseased foliage so it doesn’t get lost in the fall leaves. Dispose of diseased plants in the garbage. Don’t put them in the compost pile unless you are absolutely sure it will get hot enough to kill any lingering spores. Cut back the foliage of early bloomers like hardy geraniums to revitalize the plants. They are probably looking a bit tired and removing the older leaves will encourage fresh new growth.
Hopefully you have started to prune summer flowering shrubs as the flowers fade. This will help put the energy back into the leaves and roots of the plant, rather than into setting seed.
Continue feeding handing baskets to prolong their beauty. Sometimes we take hanging baskets for granted since they tend to be planted with profuse bloomers. However, they will need some TLC after working so hard setting flowers all summer.
Take pictures of your garden at their peak and also of those beautiful container combinations you would like to repeat. This will give you reminders next season of what worked and which areas of your garden need some tweaking.
With all of this heat, hang in there; we will get a cool break soon!
Charlene Thornhill is a volunteer citizen columnist, who serves The Daily Advocate readers weekly with her community column Along the Garden Path. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.