10 Gardening Activities for August in the South
Be sure to keep a watchful eye on your garden this month. Look for pest issues and also plants that need extra water or protection. Here are garden tasks, tips, ideas, chores, and places to visit this month.
1. Care for Summer Crops
The vegetables, herbs, and fruits in your garden will be prolific this month. Be sure to continuously harvest produce so it doesn’t go to waste or drop to the ground (which will attract pests). Also, many plants such as green beans, basil, tomatoes, peppers, chives, and lettuce yield better crops when harvested regularly. While harvesting, be sure to look for pests and disease on plants. For example, if you see worms on tomato plants, you should remove them by hand and dispose of them. If you see indication of disease on any plants, remove affected foliage as soon as possible and dispose of it. Protect plants with neem oil.
2. Save Your Summer Bounty
Some people love canning and preserving while others swear by drying herbs and freezing other produce. Whatever you’re most comfortable with, be sure to order supplies such as mason jars, freezer bags, twine, and other items so you have them on hand as the season progresses. If you know you won’t use all your produce and don’t plan to give it away, try saving batches each week. Label containers with the date so you know when you harvested it. Learn easy ways to preserve your harvest.
3. Visit Juniper Level Botanic Garden
This garden, run by plantsman Tony Avent who also runs Plant Delights Nursery, is located in Raleigh, North Carolina. It’s worth a visit this month because many of the exotic plants and tropicals that Avent is known for look especially good right now. From agaves to bananas, red hot poker to yuccas, there’s a lot to see. If tropical plants aren’t your thing, there are many other specialty collections to see.
4. Give Topiaries & Hedges a Final Haircut
Many varieties of topiary and hedges start going dormant in November and December. So if you trim later than the end of August, there’s a chance that the new growth won’t be able to harden off before the first freeze. This will destroy new growth and cause unsightly dieback that you will have to cut back harder next season.
5. Continue Planting & Dividing Irises
You can start planting irises this month. They usually do best when planted between August and October, according to the American Iris Society. The fall months typically bring rain which helps supplement watering. Order new varieties online from sources such as Schriener’s Iris Gardens or Rainbow Iris Farm. If you already have irises in your garden that are looking crowded, dig up clumps and divide them with a clean spade during a cooler time of day. Once clumps are out of the ground, move them to the shade so they don’t dry out. After dividing them, replant them as soon as possible. This is a quick visual rundown of how to divide irises.
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6. Order Bulbs
Though you probably won’t be planting bulbs for another month or two, now is the time to make your selections and place an order. If you don’t do it now many of the bulb suppliers will sell out of the best selections. One tip: Order in bulk from sources that sell in large quantities such as Van Engelen Inc. who sells bulbs in sets of 50, 100, 500, 1,000, and more. It’s much more cost effective to buy them this way. Just make sure you’re ready to do some planting! (If you don’t think you’ll plant them all, find a neighbor or friend who is also looking to plant bulbs so you can go in on the cost together.) The impact on your garden next spring will be magical. Bulb suppliers also have pages with suggestions such as the best bulbs to grow in warmer climates or daffodils that love heat.
7. Give Your Roses Some Love
Keep a watchful eye on your roses and continue spraying them with organic fungicide to prevent disease. You’ll also want to stop fertilizing roses this month. If you see signs of disease, remove affected foliage as soon as possible and dispose of it. Get more rose care tips.
8. Plant Conifers Now and Into the Fall
When planting conifers you want to make sure they have adequate time to root before the ground begins to freeze. In most areas of the South, planting in late August and into the fall will provide adequate warmth for root growth and enough time for roots to establish. Keep plants consistently watered until rain or snow increases the natural moisture level of the soil. Visit Singing Tree Gardens Nursery to buy online or purchase at your local nursery.
9. Plant Cool-Season Crops
Prepare beds by removing warm-weather crops that are ready to be turned. Cover beds with a 2- to 4-inch layer of compost. Direct sow beans, beets, spinach, mesclun, tatsoi, and other crops appropriate for fall planting. It’s best to plant crops like broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower from starts rather than seeds. Always look at your area’s first frost date to determine which crops are appropriate to plant right now.
10. Visit the Atlanta Botanical Garden
This is a great month to visit the Atlanta Botanical Garden because there’s so much going on during summer—from concerts in the garden to seasonal exhibits. It’s also interesting to see how well many of the gardens perform in high heat. The Rock Garden, Conifer Garden, Edible Garden, Levy Parterre Garden, and more look great in the heat of high summer. And if you want a break from the heat, take a stroll along the Kendeda Canopy Walk. It has a woodland walkway that weaves through a canopy of oaks, hickories, and tulip poplars. The walkway is suspended around 40 feet in the air, and visitors can observe the woodland forest floor below.
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