The first part of August is either the beginning of the end when it comes to your lovely flowers and productive vegetable garden or it is the start of the late summer and fall garden of beauty and bounty.
The hot weather means what you do in your garden this month will determine how it behaves for the next six weeks. Your garden and landscape needs more than just water, water and more water.
Here is a top 10 list of the most common things people do to mess up their gardens in August.
1. People don’t water pots and baskets often enough.
As your plants grow, they need more water in late summer because roots fill their containers. Most hanging baskets will need a half gallon of water every day by the first part of August. They also need more fertilizer.
2. People stop fertilizing potted plants.
Plants in containers need fertilizer all summer long. The dry summer weather means we water our pots more than usual and this flushes the nutrients from the potting soil even if you used a slow release, organic or liquid plant food. Keep fertilizing your plants in containers following the instructions on the package of whatever type of plant food you decide to use.
3. People allow potted plants to sit in saucers full of drainage water.
Raise those pots up an inch so the bottom of the container does not sit in water. By August, the roots of many potted plants have grown to the bottoms of the pots and will seek water through the drainage holes. If the drainage holes become blocked and sit in water, plants suffer from root rot.
4. People don’t water lawns and shrubs deep enough.
Watering for 10 minutes or less every day is bad for your lawn. Daily watering trains the grass roots to sit at the surface waiting for a handout and this turns into a drinking problem. Water less often, but water longer so the roots will follow the moisture down deep into the soil. Our Northwest lawns need at least one inch of water a week to stay green. Aim to water once or twice a week and make sure your lawn is well-aerated and free of thatch to encourage the water to percolate down deep into the ground. The roots will follow moisture and your lawn will become less water dependent.
5. People don’t water their rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias and newly planted shrubs often enough.
These spring blooming shrubs need water in August and September if you want them to put on a show in the spring. They have shallow roots so you can hand water with a hose over the root zones every few days. April flowers depend on August watering.
6. People forget about summer pruning.
Shorten up those tall rose stems once they finish flowering, get snippy with the spent blooms of lavender, delphiniums, poppies and other early summer bloomers. Cut the tops off your tomato plants once they start producing ripe tomatoes. If a plant is ugly, cut it back.
7. People forget to plant more vegetables for an autumn harvest.
Onion sets, kale, carrots and cabbage can be planted in late summer for an autumn harvest.
8. People don’t harvest zucchini and green beans when they are young and tender.
The summer squash will hide from you under the foliage. Seek and find them so you can enjoy zucchini and green beans when they are young and tender – the more you pick the more you get. Harvest summer squash when it is the size of a large pickle.
9. People don’t keep their tomato plants consistently watered.
Irregular watering causes cracking and splitting of tomatoes. Water the soil not the foliage or fruit. Keep the soil evenly moist.
10. Biggest mistake of all – people forget how wonderful it is to garden in Western Washington. Take a moment every day to notice everything good in your garden.