August is graduation time! No ceremonies, to be sure. But all gardening graduates have their diplomas by now. No, these aren’t sheepskins or ‘Master Gardener’ certificates. They’re the real McCoys of accomplishment … the ripening tomatoes, cucumbers, corn and more…the full flowering gardens of roses, black-eyed Susan, hibiscus and others. These are the credentials of every dedicated gardener.
After all, isn’t that what county fairs in August are all about…a recognition of the best of achievement in farming, gardening, husbandry and other individual feats. August is a more relaxed time…a mile-marker of sorts but since we’re dealing with living things, there’s always a bit of something to be tended to on schedule. So, here are reminders for August work in the garden.
VEGETABLES: Sow fall crop greens, lettuce and radish before mid month. Sow winter oats or annual ryegrass in bare areas of the garden as a “green manure” to be turned under either this fall or next spring. Dig and cure onions in a warm dry place for two weeks, then store in a cool, dry place (if you can find one). Check sweet corn for earworms. If any are present, spray with Sevin every two days four or five times, or spray with permethrin every five days two or three times. Follow the label directions and note all precautions and restrictions.
FRUIT: Fertilize June-bearing strawberries with a high nitrogen fertilizer such as 30-0-0 at the rate of three pounds per 100 feet of row or one pound per 100 square feet. Apply Dacthal to prevent fall weed seed sprouting in the bed. Water the bed thoroughly from now to early autumn because this is the time for fruit bed set.
Apple maggot is a serious pest of apples. Ideally, control of this pest starts in late June. But, if you see maggots, it will help to spray with an all-purpose insecticide applied at regular 10-14 day intervals from August to early September. Don’t use Sevin because, although it will control maggots, it will often result in an increase of mites.
BRAMBLES: Cut out at ground level and burn all the old branched raspberry canes which bore this year’s fruit. Removal of these canes helps to reduce disease and insect problems. Thin out the excess remaining canes to let in more air and sunlight. Don’t damage the unbranched canes which will bear next year’s fruit. If you have Heritage red raspberries, they are ready for picking this month.
LAWNS: White grubs (C-shaped larvae) which feed on grass roots may be a problem in some lawns, especially those which have been kept green and lush by watering. These lawns are more attractive as an egg-laying carpet for the June bug, the adult form of the grub. They are less of a problem in brown, parched lawns. To determine if you lawn is infested; carefully pull back about a one foot square section of turf. If you find fewer than 10 grubs, there’s generally no need for treatment. But, if you find 10 -12 grubs in this area, then damage control is recommended.
Early Season curative control measures can be taken in early August before turf damage occurs. Look for pesticides labeled as preventatives. They are carbamates and organophosphates. Post-application irrigation is necessary in order to improve efficacy. These same products can be used for control if and when grub damage occurs in late fall. For more detail, again, see the Purdue University web site. A second application is sometimes necessary. See Purdue University Turf Tips.(http://www.agry.purdue.edu/turf/tips/2010/07282010_grubs.html) for more information on these insecticides.
A quick look in garden centers in mid-August found two products labeled for lawn grubs. They were Bayer Advanced Complete Insect killer, and Spectracide Triazicide Insect Killer. However, Terry Davis, a Michigan State University entomologist, does not have a high opinion of many products marketed for grub control, especially late season control. He feels both products are best used as preventives in May and June, when the grubs are actively feeding. See his April 2008 article athttp://www.ipm.msu.edu/cat08land/grub_control.htm. Remember that this was originally posted in April, not late summer.
ORNAMENTALS: Order peonies for fall planting. After hollyhocks have quit blooming, cut them down to the ground and burn the stalks to prevent carry-over of rust fungi.
Every three to four years, iris rhizome should be dug up here and there from a bed, then divided and replanted immediately in other sunny, well drained places. This thinning will improve blooming of those not dug up. This job that could also be done in September.
When cutting the rhizomes, trim the roots back and cut the leaves down to about 1/2 to 1/3 their height. Avoid deep planting of the rhizomes, covering them with on 1/2 to 2 inches of soil and spreading the roots out well. Space them 18 – 24 inches apart.
If none of these jobs apply to your garden, then you’re off the hook. Just sit back, relax and enjoy your harvest.
Copyright © 2010 – Margaret Balbach