Saturday, August 27, 2011

Evaluation Time

Summer usually takes its toll on gardeners and the garden. As late summer arrives and you feel as bedraggled as your garden, take some inspiration from fall-flowering perennials like garden mums, aster, Autumn Joy sedum, goldenrod swamp sunflower, and salvia. As summer’s heat and humidity yields to the shorter; cooler days of autumn, pay a visit to those far corners of the garden that haven’t seen a gardener’s eye since the 4th of July! It’s time to evaluate the landscape and make notes about what needs to be done in September. Plants in decline may need to be replaced by new plantings. Late summer and fall is a good time to plant trees, shrubs and perennials. Be adventurous and select a few new and delectable plants for you garden!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

August Checklist

In the summer “Gardening requires lots of water - most of it in the form of perspiration.“ ~Lou Erickson

I know it is hot outside in the garden during August so I try and make a checklist of things I need to do so I don’t waste time in the heat and humidity of the Lowcountry summer weather. I start by remembering the 3 D’s when evaluating what needs done in the garden: damaged, diseased, and dead twigs from trees, shrubs, and roses and even your annuals and perennials. This isn’t time for heavy pruning though.

I Check mulch in my planting beds to see if wind, rain and natural decay have decreased the thickness and replenish to 2-3 inches if needed to hold in moisture and keep out the weeds.

If the flowerbeds and cutting garden are looking bedraggled it is time toclear out the annuals that have finished blooming or are overgrown.

I trim away damaged, diseased or insect infested leaves from perennials and deadhead garden Phlox, perennial salvias, and purple coneflower to improve their appearance.

My Knockout roses often need a little boost from a fast acting fertilizer this time of year.

I collect seeds from annual vines as they ripen and save them to plant next year and check to see that actively growing vines are secured if needed. Moonflower vine grows quickly this time of year and the tendrils need some training.

It’s also time to pull out vegetables and herbs that have stopped producing and keep my tomatoes and peppers watered until the cooler weather encourages them to start producing again. I do this with a soaker hose.

This time of year insects and fungal diseases can pop up overnight so I make sure to walk through the garden often looking for problems. Aphids, spider mites Japanese Beetles are pests I watch for in August. Fungal leaf spots and powdery mildew damage can be minor needing only a few leaves removed or a fungicide may be needed. I may need to remove and discard a heavily infested plant. Sometimes I will thin the flowerbed to allow more air to flow between plants.

My husband mows the lawn regularly but I’m the one who watches to see if some areas dry out and need watering. I’m not sure how we ended up with both centipede and St. Augustine grass in my yard since we had only centipede when we moved in to our house but we did. So I have to watch for pests and diseases that are prevalent in both types of grass like mole crickets, white grubs and centipede decline in the centipede and chinch bugs and gray leaf spot in St. Augustine.

It may seem like a big list but I work at it a little in the mornings and evening when it is cool and before I know it the list is finished.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Flowers from the Garden

The dog days of summer are here but there are some things you can do to still enjoy this month in the garden. My garden has an abundance of flowers this time of year and I like to bring some inside to enjoy. If you don’t have a cutting garden considering planting one for yourself next year. Perennials are the basis for my cutting garden and this time of year you can buy many perennials at reduced prices in garden departments. Shasta Daisy, Coneflower, Salvias, Rudbeckia and Coreopsis are good choices. Pick some up and plant them now or wait a little until the temperatures cool down but be sure to plant them by fall so they will bloom for you next year. Also consider annual choices of Zinnia, Sunflowers, celosias, Cosmos and gomphrenas. I cut my flowers early in the morning and carry a bucket or watering can so I can put my flowers immediately in water when I collect flowers in the garden. Once inside I strip leaves that will fall before the water line in the vase then recut the stems at an angle before arranging in a vase. I change the water daily or often to prolong the life of bouquet. If you need extra vases consider using wine bottles, canning jars and pitchers work well for a casual look.