IN AUGUST, the perennial garden winds down…and the veggie garden explodes. It’s time to pickle the cukes, sauce the tomatoes, and freeze the broccoli and beans. Then there are annuals to propagate, bulbs to order, and…anyone else need a valium? The essential chores for August:
Container Plantings. These will keep their looks until frost if you remove spent flowers regularly. Remember that container plants must be fed and watered daily — twice daily, in fact, during hot, dry spells.
Annuals. Take cuttings from impatiens, petunias, and wax begonias, and root them in pots of good soil. Brought indoors before frost, these colorful annuals will bloom all winter in a sunny window.
Bulbs. It’s the early gardener who gets the best tulips, hyacinths, narcissi and other spring bulbs. Order now to avoid disappointment. I obtain most of my bulbs from this source; for special, heirloom varieties, I shop here.
Compost. Fork over the pile, and soak it well with a slow-running hose. If you wish to contain, not pile, your garden debris, consider these inexpensive composting bins.
Daylilies. Following a heavy rain, divide and transplant big clumps.
Lawns. Let the weather, not the calendar, dictate your mowing routine. Do not mow at all during times of drought.
Perennials. If you are feeling energetic, sow next year’s crop of delphiniums, asters, hollyhocks and other perennials anytime now. Or, you can wait — as I do — and winter-sow these seeds during the less-harried months of January and February. In any event, consider planting something unusual, like the cocoa-scented Chocolate Flower.
Roses. Continue to deadhead; fertilize one last time for autumn bloom.
Beans, Green. Continue to sow at 2-week intervals. How I freeze green beans for winter use.
Broccoli. Early this month, sow another crop for winter storage.
Carrots. Sow now for winter use. Or, keep this last crop in the ground, as I do, and harvest during the first spring thaw.
Kale. Keep picking, and the plant will keep producing leaves until checked by frost. And have you tried my Crispy, Oven-Baked Kale Snackers? These are a healthy substitute to potato chips. How I freeze kale (and other leafy greens) for winter use.
Onions. Harvest when green tops fall over. How I harvest, cure and store onions..
Peas. Sow your storage-crop now.
Potatoes. Although you can harvest these anytime after vines die back, I always leave mine underground until October. Why? Because my cellar isn’t cool enough before then to store the crop. How I harvest and store potatoes.
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