Gardening Giudelines for July and August
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General Yard and Garden Information and Tasks
- Keep a logbook of problems, failures, and successes to help in future planting seasons. Note techniques and plant varieties for consideration.
- Practice smart and safe gardening. This includes practicing good ergonomics and properly using the right tools for the job.
- Be sure to keep birdbaths full on these hot days. Your feathered friends will be so grateful! Unless your birdbath has an aerator to keep the water moving, monitor for mosquito larvae and use Larvicides containing spores or metabolites of the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti) (e.g., Mosquito Dunks, Mosquito Bits, Microbe-Lift, and other products). You can use Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) products to kill mosquito larvae but they don’t affect people, other animals, or plants.
- Have you planned your fall garden? It will be time to plant some things in August.
- If you did not have your soil tested prior to this planting season, it is a great time to test to plan ahead for your fall garden. You can test now at no charge through the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service.
- Google NC State Extension Publications to get great articles to help you plan your fall garden. Use the search box for specific information.
- Clean off rows of crops as soon as they are through bearing and use rows for replanting or keep them fallow for fall crops. This helps to prevent insect and disease buildup.
- Keep garden mulched to control weeds and to improve moisture. Weeds and grass compete for moisture and nutrients.
- Keep an eye on rainfall and soil dryness to prevent drought stress. Water deeply and less often, instead of frequently and minimally.
- Focus should be on harvesting. If produce goes unpicked, plants stop making flowers and fruit. This is especially true for okra, string beans, garden peas, cucumbers, summer squash, and tomatoes. Visit the garden daily to improve production. Additionally, unpicked produce can rot and attract pests.
- If your vegetable garden produces more than you can immediately eat, consider what to do with the extra produce. You might freeze or can some for your family to eat during the off-season. Check with your county’s N.C. Cooperative Extension office or NC State Extension online for more information on food preservation. You might also consider sharing extra produce with local food banks or charities.
- Check plants for proper support. Keep tomatoes tied up. Train cucumber plants on supports. Properly tying up plants is important to reduce fruit rots, sunscald, and foliar diseases, as well as simplifying harvesting.
- Going on vacation? Arrange for a neighbor to water and harvest your garden while you are away.
- If you plan to plant a fall garden, you need to calculate plant-by dates. In order to do so, determine the frost date for your area and count back the number of days to maturity plus 18 days for harvest of each crop. For instance, if snap beans mature in 55 days and your frost date is October 21, you should plant on or before August 9.
- Start plants for broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, kale, and green onions in a half-shaded area for setting out in September.
Shrubs and Trees
- Newly planted shrubs and trees need extra care now and in the coming weeks. Be sure to water deeply if rain is scarce.
- Mulch new plantings if not already done.
- Don’t spray with oil emulsions when temperature is above 85°F.
Fruits and Nuts
- An excellent source of information for fruit and nut growers in North Carolina can be found at NC State Extension Publications.
- The best source for all things grass can be found at NC State Extension’s online TurfFiles.
- Water new lawns deeply as needed to prevent drying.
Annuals, Perennials, and Bulbs
- Keep old flower heads removed to promote continued flowering.
- Do not pinch tips on mums after early- to mid-July, or you will be removing some flower buds.
- Watch for insects and diseases.
- Cut back foliage from spring-flowering bulbs after it has yellowed and is becoming dry.
Resources used in this article:
General Vegetable Gardening Tips and Planning Fall Gardens:
Fruits and Nuts:
Becky Garrett is an Extension Master Gardener℠ volunteer in Lee County.