Monthly Garden Calendar for Southeast United States

Organic Gardening Month-to-Month Almanac

By Don Boekelheide

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AUGUST

Man, is it ever hot! On the other hand, don't those fresh tomatoes and cukes taste good, and aren't those watermelons sweet? Besides, with thunderstorms making their seasonal racket, there's no more harmonious place than the garden, early in the morning, with sunflowers gazing up at the sun, like a choir with all eyes on the director at the moment they burst into song.

Fertilizer Tip. Don't fertilize or heavily prune trees or shrubs after the middle of this month. Both of these stimulate growth, setting your plants up for stress and possible death when temperatures drop. For major pruning, wait until late fall, after deciduous plants have dropped their leaves and become dormant.

Stake Out. Stake up tall plants that might blow over during a storm (such as tithonia, sunflowers and sweet peppers).

Mix Your Compost. Turn established compost piles this month. If you made piles last fall or in the early spring, check to see if they are ready to spread for fall planting. Compost is ready when the composted materials have broken down enough that you can't readily recognize what they are made from.

Dress Up. Sidedress peppers and eggplants with an organic fertilizer.

Planting Time. Plant varieties of bush beans ('Contender', 'Provider'), cucumbers ('Poinsett', 'Marketmore 76') and squash (yellow crookneck and straightneck, pattypan, 'Zephyr' from Johnny's seed) that mature rapidly.

Super Strawberries. Feed strawberries with an organic fertilizer rich in nitrogen, such as liquid fish and seaweed fertilizer.

Don't Forget to Make Cuttings. You can still root hardwood cuttings of your favorite shrubs and trees.

Shrubs and Trees. Hold off on planting shrubs and trees at least until next month, if possible. The best time to plant woodies and perennials in Southeast Zone 7 is later in the fall.

Bulb Planting. Plant bulbs for Spider lily (Lycoris) and Autumn crocus (Colchicum).

Brown Patch Alert. Our warm wet summers lead to "brown patch," a fungal disease that kills patches of grass. If this happens, check with your local Cooperative Extension to determine the exact type of problem you are dealing with before taking action. High numbers of beetle grubs can also kill grass in patches.

Beware of Borers. Squash vine borers are active this month. Remove affected plants; don't let the larva pupate in the soil.

Wasp Watch. Watch for wasps' nests, both in trees and in the ground. If you see a vivid blue and red fuzzy 'ant' wandering around your yard, give it a respectful berth and mind your pets and small kids. That 'velvet ant' is a wingless wasp, and its sting packs a real wallop.

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