"Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability." - Sam Keen
August in the garden can be more relaxed than other times in the growing season. We have the opportunity to step back and really look at what the garden is . and enjoy it. However, there's always something to be done. It's a garden, after all. What follows are the basics.
- Plant spinach and lettuce midmonth for a fall harvest.
- Harvest cucumbers intended for slicing when they are 6 to 8 inches.
- Onions are ready to harvest when their green tops fall over. Lift the bulbs and brush off loose soil. Bring them to a protected area, such as a porch or covered shed. Lay them out in a single layer on a surface that permits ventilation top and bottom. An old screen propped up by bricks along the edge can work. Proper "curing" can take two to three weeks. Do not store any onions that are still wet. When the outer skins have turned papery, place them in a mesh bag or old panty hose and place them in a dark and cool place.
- Peppers can be harvested anytime they achieve the size you need or want.
- Water tomatoes regularly until late August. After that, fruit will ripen more quickly when water is withheld
- Fertilize between now and mid-September using 1 pound of actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet.
- Mow as often as needed to a height of 2 1/2 to 3 inches
- Newly planted perennials, trees and shrubs need consistent watering to become established.
- Fertilize roses for the last time around Aug. 15. Fertilizing later may stimulate new succulent growth that could damage the plant if there is an early frost.
- Divide spring blooming perennials if they need it. One way to tell if a perennial needs to be divided is if the plant has a "hole" in the middle and doesn't look as attractive as it used to or if blooms decrease or stop altogether. Also, if the plant is crowding out neighboring plants, it's time to divide. Some plants that benefit from dividing in late summer are: Basket of Gold (Aurinia saxatilis), daylily (Hemerocallis species), Hardy Geranium (Geranium species), hosta (Hosta species), coreopsis (Coreopsis species), Garden Phlox (Phlox paniculata) and Speedwell (Veronica species).
- Powdery mildew is a fungal disease that appears as patches of white or gray powdery substance. It will most likely attack where plants are crowded and kept damp. Some susceptible plants are garden phlox, bee balm, Virginia creeper vine and roses. In the vegetable family, squash and cucumbers can succumb to powdery mildew. To avoid the disease, avoid overhead watering where these plants grow and space plants farther apart to encourage air circulation. Sulfur products sprayed during the growing season may help control powdery mildew.
- Take advantage of plant sales. Usually starting mid to late August and into September, many nurseries will have plants sales with prices as much as 50 percent off.
Get answers to your horticultural questions by calling a Master Gardener Volunteer at 520-7684 or emailing CSUmg2@elpasoco.com. Volunteers are available to help 9 a.m. to noon. Monday through Friday.