I ran across one of my old gardening articles and thought it was timely.
By this time of the season, the vegetable garden is looking pretty tired and pitiful. Most of the harvesting is already done. Aromas of zucchini bread baking and canning peaches fill the air in many Low Country kitchens. Most of the summer perennials are past their prime and the annuals are getting leggy, but there is still much to do in the August garden!
This is the perfect time to collect seeds from your best performers. Many herb, perennial and annual seeds can be sown now for next year’s show, such as Coreopsis (Tick Seed), Shasta Daisies, Columbine, Rudebeckia (Black Eyed Susan), Monarda (Bee Balm) and Poppies. If you want a head start on your winter annuals, you can sow Snapdragons, Violas, Stock, Oriental Poppies, Forget-me-nots, Calendula and Primrose from seed now.
You can also begin dividing perennials; start with your Bearded Iris. If the bulbish roots look wormy, just soak them in a bucket of diluted bleach and the little critters won’t see another sunrise. Don’t forget to cut the foliage back to 4″-6″. You can divide all of your perennials once they stop blooming.
Citrus trees and roses will need a little pruning and a dose of fertilizer before winter. After September, you should allow your roses to grow their “hips” and finish their annual cycle. Don’t cut them again until Valentine’s Day. Only prune citrus to improve its shape or to remove damaged or wild branches…but never in winter.
Our growing season isn’t really long enough for some tropical fruits, but if you were lucky enough to get bananas this year, leave them on the vine as long as you can. Harvest them green, just before our first frost and place them in a brown paper bag with an apple. The gas that comes off the apple helps to ripen the bananas.
Don’t give up on your raggedy Petunias yet! Shear them, feed them and in about four weeks they’ll be blooming again and will probably last the winter.
The compost pile is getting pretty full by August. Here is a short list of yard debris NOT to include; fallen fruit, diseased leaves and weeds.
As you enjoy the end of your summer harvest, it will be time to sow the winter crops; like cabbage, brussel sprouts, parsley, carrots, radishes, beets, onion and don’t forget about garlic. Planting garlic in your garden will naturally keep many pests from eating your goodies!
There are companion planting guides available on the internet that can help you plan what to plant next to what. The insects that one attracts will eat the insects that attack the other. Nature is so smart!
Just thinking of cooler weather makes me want to buy spring bulbs. It a good time to order your Daffodils and Narcissus. Don’t bother with once and done Tulips, Crocus or Hyacinths. They don’t like it here. A little advise when it comes to buying bulbs. You definitely get what you pay for. Most of the big bags result in small bulbs and poor quality. One more tip for a beautiful spring show…plant them under chicken wire or inside of large suet (bird food) cages. The squirrels really find them tasty. Especially if you use bone meal…mmmmmm, they love bone meal!