By Susan Pezzolla
August is the height of summer and the heat makes working outside a challenge, so plan to work early in the morning or early evening. Remember to hydrate yourself as well as the plants. Here are some suggestions for what to do in the garden and landscape at this time of year.
• While many veggies are ripening, some have completed their cycle, leaving open space in the garden, so plant a second crop of a vegetable that likes cooler weather to grow and ripen such as spinach, leafy greens, beets or peas.
• Tips for keeping plants cool and hydrated:
– Catch rainwater in barrels for use when rain is scarce.
– Use water-conserving soaker hoses instead of overhead sprinkler systems.
– Mulch with a quality organic material to keep roots cool and retain moisture levels in the soil.
– Water in the morning so that plants have time to quench their thirst before evaporation sets in.
– Water less frequently but more deeply, as this will encourage deeper root growth and will result in healthier, more drought-tolerant plants.
– Water slowly to decrease runoff.
– Keep weeds at a minimum, lessening competition for precious moisture.
• Avoid pruning evergreens in August, as pruning will stimulate new growth that will not have time to harden before winter.
• Deadhead flowers by removing spent blooms (especially on annuals) to encourage flowering.
• Dig and divide daylilies and iris.
• Dry or freeze herbs for winter use. Make pesto and freeze in ice cube trays to store as cubes for use in sauces and soups for fall and winter.
• Cut flowers for fresh bouquets and to dry.
• Seed or reseed a lawn in mid-August through the end of September—the best time to do this task.
• Decide which perennials need to be divided and moved later in the fall.
• Don’t forget food pantries when you have excess produce.
• Take a class at your local Cooperative Extension to learn how to preserve your vegetable bounty.
• Move any houseplants that you have brought outside to a shady location to prepare them for the return indoors. Start inspecting the backs of leaves and stems for signs of insect activity and treat prior to bringing inside.
• Plan to attend a local county fair. The Altamont Fair is open August 17-21 and the Schaghticoke Fair is open August 31-September 5.
Susan Pezzolla, Master Gardener Coordinator, Horticulture Educator. Cornell University Cooperative Extension. 24 Martin Road, Voorheesville, NY.